Cyclic fatty acids are an unusual class of minor fatty acids generally produced by bacteria and less frequently by plants. Among plants, the most known cyclic fatty acid is sterculic acid (9, 10-methyleneoctadecenoic acid) produced by Sterculia foetida. Bacteria (e.g., lactic acid bacteria) synthetize cyclopropane fatty acids, such as dihydrosterculic acid (9, 10-methylene octadecanoic acid) and lactobacillic acid (11, 12 methylene octadecanoic acid), to strength their membrane, improving their resistance to environmental stress. Another class of cyclic fatty acids is omega-cyclohexyl fatty acids, present in milk and probably produced by rumen bacteria. Cyclopropane and omega-cyclohexyl fatty acids have been recently found in bovine meat and dairy products, representing important foodstuffs in human diet. In this chapter, a review of literature data concerning the presence of cyclic fatty acids in foods, their metabolism in humans, and their potential bioactivity will be provided. The role of some cyclic fatty acids as molecular markers for food authenticity will also be highlighted.
Part of the book: Biochemistry and Health Benefits of Fatty Acids