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Phospholipids and MFGM

Valio’s fat similarity index illustrates the benefits of milk fat in infant milk formula

Valio’s fat similarity index illustrates the benefits of milk fat in infant milk formula
Anu Turpeinen
Anu Turpeinen, PhD
Nutrition research manager

Anu has a strong academic background, combined with experience in the food industry. She earned her PhD in human nutrition from the University of Helsinki, worked as a researcher for about 10 years and was appointed as an Adjunct Professor in nutrition.

Valio developed the fat similarity index to visualize the differences and similarities between fat sources in infant milk formula products, making comparisons easier.

Breast milk is the best choice when it comes to feeding infants and IMF products aim to imitate it as closely as possible to ensure babies have an optimal start in life. The many different fat compounds in breast milk have a beneficial impact on the growth and development of the infant, including brain development and gut health. Comparison between the benefits of different fat sources in IMF is difficult, but there is a way to compare them with only one number: the fat similarity index.

This bar chart compares the fat composition of breast milk to that of milk-fat based IMF and vegetable oil based IMF on a scale of 0 to 1, the bar representing breast milk reaching to 1. The bar representing milk-fat based IMF reaches to about 0,74 while the bar representing vegetable oil based IMF falls slightly under 0,5.
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The science behind the fat similarity index

The new article “Similarity Index for the Fat Fraction between Breast Milk and Infant Formulas,” published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, shows that adding cow’s milk makes the lipid composition of infant formulas and breast milk more similar.


Breast milk90-150 mg/l
Milk fat40-50 mg/l
Vegetable oil0 mg/l

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Anu Turpeinen, PhD

Anu Turpeinen, PhD

Nutrition research manager
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The fat similarity index — evidence supporting the use of cow’s milk fat in infant formula.

In this episode of Expert insights, Valio’s research specialist Anu Turpeinen explains the similarities between cow’s milk fat and breast milk — and why infant formula makers would benefit from using cow’s milk fat as the ingredient.