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General chemical structure of a monoglyceride.

A monoglyceride, more correctly known as a monoacylglycerol, is a glyceride consisting of one fatty acid chain covalently bonded to a glycerol molecule through an ester linkage.

Monoacylglycerol can be broadly divided into two groups; 1-monoacylglycerols and 2-monoacylglycerols, depending on the position of the ester bond on the glycerol moiety.

Monoacylglycerols can be formed by both industrial chemical and biological processes. They are formed biochemically via release of a fatty acid from diacylglycerol by diacylglycerol lipase or hormone sensitive lipase. Monoacylglycerols are broken down by monoacylglycerol lipase.

Mono- and Diglycerides are commonly added to commercial food products in small quantities. They act as emulsifiers, helping to mix ingredients such as oil and water that would not otherwise blend well.

The commercial source may be either animal (cow- or hog-derived) or vegetable, and they may be synthetically made as well. They are often found in bakery products, beverages, ice cream, chewing gum, shortening, whipped toppings, margarine, and confections.

One special monoacylglycerol, 2-arachidonoylglycerol, is a full agonist of the cannabinoid receptors and thus classified as an endocannabinoid.

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