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Title: Fat content and fatty acid profiles of shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa subspecies nilotica) ethno-varieties in Uganda

Date Published: December 2012
Author/s: Samson Gwalia, Grace Nakabongea, John Bosco Lamoris Okulloa, Gerald Eilua,
Nelly Forestier-Chironc, Georges Piombod and Fabrice Davrieux
Data publication:
Funding Agency :
Copyright/patents/trade marks:
Journal Publisher:
Affiliation: School of Forestry, Environment and Geographical Sciences, College of Agricultural Sciences,
Makerere University, P.O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda; bNational Forestry Resources Research
Institute (NaFORRI),P.O. Box 1752,Kampala,Uganda; cCIRAD, Persyst,UMRQualisud, TA B-95/16,
73, Rue Jean Franc¸ois Breton, 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France; dCIRAD, UMR IATE, Laboratoire
de Lipotechnie TA B-62/16, 73 rue Jean Franc¸ois Breton, 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
Keywords: shea tree; Vitellaria paradoxa; nilotica; fatty acids; near infrared spectrophotometry; Teso; West Nile


Fat content and fatty acid composition are important nutritional properties of shea fruits.
Farmers inUganda report the presence of local shea tree ethno-varieties, but it is necessary
to investigate their relative fat content and fatty acid composition to evaluate the economic
importance of these ethno-varieties. Near infrared spectrophotometry (NIRS) was used to
determine the fat content as well as the fatty acid composition of 44 ethno-varieties.Wet
chemistry (soxtec petroleum – ether fat extraction and gas chromatography)methodswere
used to validate the results fromNIRS. Fat content ranged from43.9%to 58.4%while fatty
acid composition was dominated by oleic (47–62%) and stearic acid (25–38%). Other
fatty acids present were palmitic, vaccenic, linoleic, linolenic and arachidic acids. There
was no significant difference in stearic, palmitic and oleic acid composition between
ethno-varieties. However, significant variation of fat content, vaccenic and linoleic acids
was observed between some ethno-varieties, perhaps due to locality, climatic and tree-totree
differences. These findings can be utilized for the selection of ethno-varieties that are suitable for commercial production of shea oil in Uganda.