As an intermediate metabolite during the biosynthesis of sterols, squalene is found ubiquitously in plants and animals. In rice, squalene is contained in rice bran, and consequently, squalene in rice bran oil has gained attention. Studies have shown that the intake of squalene from food sources demonstrate various physiological benefits such as the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Squalene is also known as an effective antioxidant in edible oils. However, due to its chemical structure, squalene is susceptible to oxidation, which may cause a decline in the nutraceutical and antioxidative effects of squalene in edible oils. Oxidative degradation of squalene also results in the formation of scission products (i.e., aldehydes and ketones) which may lead to off-flavor. Since the rate of squalene oxidation depends on the factors that induce its oxidation (i.e., light or heat), emphasis on oxidation mechanisms is necessary. It has been demonstrated in previous studies that the oxidation products formed by the singlet oxygen oxidation and free radical oxidation of squalene are different, and more recently, we demonstrated that different squalene monohydroperoxide isomers are formed by each oxidation mechanism. We herein discuss the significance of squalene in rice bran oil as well as the oxidative degradation of squalene in edible oils with focus on oxidation mechanisms.
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