Objective: To re-investigate the composition of ackee oil and unequivocally determine its principal fatty acid components.
Methods: Oil was extracted from the edible portion of ackees harvested in three different studies (I–III) by several analysts; studies I and II utilized composite samples from several trees while study III consisted of ackees from seven separate trees. The oils were either saponified and methylated or trans-methylated and the fatty acid methyl ester content analysed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Relative fatty acid composition was quantified based on chromatographic peak areas while fatty acids were identified by mass spectrometry. The degree of unsaturation of the ackee oils was characterized by determination of the iodine value.
Results: Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry data from the three studies were assessed. Relative fatty acid composition for the ackee oils was consistent across the three studies. The major fatty acid components were oleic acid (55.44%), palmitic acid (25.57%) and stearic acid (12.59%); linoleic acid was present in minor to undetectable amounts. An iodine value of 49 was determined which is consistent with the high oleic acid content of the ackee oil.
Conclusion: The ackee samples analysed were rich in the monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) oleic acid. Consideration should be given to potential protective health effects of diets which include ackee.