Dietary Sources of Lipids

lipids are a class of organic compounds that includes fats, oils, and related substances. The most common lipids in the diet are triglycerides, which are composed of a glycerol subunit attached to three fatty acids. Other important dietary lipids include phospholipids and cholesterol.

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Dietary fats are often classified as either saturated or unsaturated. Saturated fats contain fatty acid chains in which there are no double bonds—that is, all available bonds of its hydrocarbon chain are filled (saturated) with hydrogen atoms (see Figure 2-16, p. 32). Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats contain fatty acid chains in which there are double bonds, meaning that not all sites for hydrogen are filled. Because the double bonds change the shape of unsaturated fats, the molecules usually do not “fit” together as well and so are usually liquid at room temperature.

Triglycerides are found in nearly every food that we eat. However, the amount of triglycerides in each type of food varies considerably, as does the proportion of saturated to unsaturated types. Phospholipids are also found in nearly all foods because they make up the cellular membranes of all living organisms. Cholesterol, however, is found only in foods of animal origin. Cholesterol concentration also varies. For example, it is particularly high in liver, shrimp, and the yolks of eggs.


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