Definition and types of fats

Last reviewed by: Aleksey Portnov , medical expert, on 15.05.2018

Lipids are important components of plant cells, animals and membranes of microbial cells. They are slightly soluble in water and soluble in organic solvents, such as chloroform or acetone. There are two main groups of lipids, including molecules with an open and closed chain. Lipid compounds with an open chain are as follows:

  • fatty acid;
  • triacylglycerides;
  • sphingolipids;
  • phosphoacylglycerides;
  • glycolipids.

Lipid compounds with a closed chain are steroids. The main thing in this group is cholesterol.

Fats are an important source of energy that meets the daily need for energy, and also provides it in cases where:

  • there are no other sources of energy, such as fasting;
  • cells are not able to utilize energy reserves, for example, in diabetes mellitus;

The main functions of food fats

  • Energy source
  • Source of essential fatty acids
  • Assistance in the absorption and transport of fat-soluble vitamins
  • Protection of the main organs from damage
  • Structural component of cells

Fat reserves also help maintain body temperature and protect the body from injuries. In addition, fat promotes the delivery and assimilation of fat-soluble vitamins and influences the structure of food. High-energy density of fats increases the value of food in the sense of saturation of the body.

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