Mono Diglycerides


You’ll see this ingredient listed in a few different ways on food labels. Sometimes it will say “monoglycerides”, or “diglycerides”. More frequently you’ll get “mono- and diglycerides” or simply “monodiglycerides”.

This all refers to the same food additive. This ingredient is on the FDAs GRAS list [1]. Foods on this listed are “generally recognized as safe” in small amount.

What Is It?

Mono- and Diglycerides are often listed as one ingredient on food labels, and are considered as such. These are considered a type of incomplete fat that doesn’t add to the fat content of a food because they’re added in small amounts as a non-nutritive food additive.

As opposed to triglycerides, the form of fat we get from foods, mono- and diglycerides can come from animals, plants, or even be completely synthetically created in a lab. This ingredient can and frequently does contain trans fats, but is not included in the recent FDA ban on trans fats because the language of the ban only covers triglycerides and not food additives like mono/diglycerides.

What Is Its Biological Role?

Mono- and Diglycerides are not added to food for nutritional value. They are exclusively included to improve texture and work as an emulsifier. Emulsifiers are additives that make compounds mix well together when ordinarily they wouldn’t. The classic example here is oil and water.

A more recognizable one is peanut butter. If you’ve ever bought all-natural peanut butter you may have noticed that upon first opening the jar, all of the oil is sitting on top and needs to be mixed in. If you go too long between uses, the process has to be repeated. An emulsifier fixes this problem, which is why more commercially recognized brands of peanut that use emulsifiers stay uniformly creamy.

Now, this may seem like a good thing but it does come at a cost. As mentioned above, this additive sneaks under the FDA’s trans-fat ban, and is another known source of the volatile type of fat.

Regularly consuming more than the required or tolerable amount of trans fat, has been linked greatly increases risks of various diseases and health problems, including heart disease, stroke, inflammation, obesity, and diabetes.

How Does It Help Bodybuilders and People Who Work Out?

This ingredient is likely found in some of the foods you would consider healthy and a beneficial part of your diet and exercise regime. However, this in direct opposition to the facts of how this food additive acts on your body. Even in small amounts, this is still introducing trans fats into your diet, which will aid you only if you’re trying to bulk up.

What Foods Contain It?

This additive is found in many processed foods. Here are some examples: peanut butter, ice cream, bread, gum, whipped topping, margarine spreads, chocolate syrup, pancake mix, canned frosting, coffee creamer, tortilla, boxed dinner mixes, and beverages.

How Much Of It Do You Need?

This ingredient is on the FDAs GRAS list. Foods on this listed are “generally recognized as safe” in small amount. Many people are challenging this classification due its status as a trans-fat carrier, and say that consuming mono - and diglycerides in any amount should be avoided because of the trans-fat. Regardless of which side of that trans-fat controversy you land on, there is certainly no officially recommended amount to strive for consuming each day.

Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Much Of It?

Consuming large amounts of mono- and diglycerides is associated with introduction of trans-fats [3] into the body. This in turn is known to be a dangerous fat that increases our risks of many diseases and health problems from heart disease and diabetes, to widespread inflammation resulting in joint pain.

Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Little Of It?

This ingredient is considered a non-nutritive food additive, and so is not a necessary part of a wholesome, balanced diet. If you were to avoid mono- and diglycerides you would experience no ill effects.

Overall it’s a very inexpensive emulsifier that is vital to the shelf life of many popular processed foods, which probably means it isn’t going anywhere.

References:

[1] Food And Drug Administration, US. Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). US Department of Health and Human Services, 2017.

[2] Food And Drug Administration, US. FDA Cuts Trans Fat In Processed Food. US Department of Health and Human Services, 2015.

[3] American Heart Association. Trans Fats. Heart.org, 2015.