Regional variation in shea butter lipid and triterpene composition in four African countries

Daria Di Vincenzo, Steve Maranz, Arnaldo Serraiocco, Raffaella Vito, Zeev Wiesman, Giorgio Bianchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


The triacylglycerol, fatty acid, and polycyclic triterpene compositions of shea butter were determined for 150 samples from the sub-Saharan countries of Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Uganda. The compositional profiles showed high variability in all three classes of compounds. Shea butter is made up mainly of four triglycerides (TAG) differing in carbon number (CN) by two, starting from CN 50 to CN 56. The greatest source of variation was in the CN 54 TAG. Shea butter is characterized by 16 saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in greatly varying proportion, the major ones being the even homologues in the range of C16-C20. Oleic acid is dominant in Ugandan provenances, whereas stearic acid is dominant in West African shea butter. Acetyl and cinnamyl polycyclic triterpene means for countries ranged from 3.69 to 12.57%, with the highest values found in Nigerian provenances. Statistical comparisons of fat composition show that the geographic distance between shea populations is reflected in the degree of separation of their chemical profiles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7473-7479
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number19
StatePublished - 21 Sep 2005


  • Acetyl and cinnamyl polycyclic triterpenes
  • Chemometrics
  • Fat composition
  • Triglycerides
  • Vitellaria paradoxa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)


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