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Lipids: what they are and what they are for

Lipids: what they are and what they are for


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Hearing the word "Lipids”Many tremble, afraid of losing the line even just thinking about it, let alone reading about it. No fear, in this sense, however, indeed, what we want to reveal or to reiterate is the fact that lipids, or fats if you prefer, are not all bad and should not make us tremble.

There are some lipids which are indeed necessary for our health and it would be a mistake to eliminate them from our diet.

Lipids: what they are

Also called fat, from the Greek lipos means fat, i lipids they are a heterogeneous group of substances that have in common a low degree of solubility in water but at the same time are instead soluble in organic solvents such as benzene, ether or chloroform. We try not to think only of lipids at the table but in a more general way, also from a chemical point of view.

For example, we can start by saying that they are made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen like carbohydrates, but the ratio of hydrogen to oxygen is much higher. The reason we are delving into these details is that they supply lipids the peculiar characteristics that have concrete repercussions and that concern themselves. The aforementioned characteristic, for example, makes fats more energetic than carbohydrates in absolute terms but reduces their energy yield for the same amount of oxygen consumed.

After seeing what i lipids, let's see where we can find them with greater possibilities. They are mainly contained in foods of animal origin but are also abundantly present in the plant kingdom, in particular in oils. Although very similar chemically, oils and fats have some differences: the former are liquid at room temperature, the latter are solid.

Lipids: what they are for

Very often the term lipids with the presence of body fat and connects them to the feared presence of cardiovascular disease and cancer. This is not the case, it is not always the case, it is not all so "easy" and banal, it is necessary to take into consideration the idea, the certainty, that there are some types of fats that play a fundamental role in the functioning of our body.

Lipids are in fact indispensable for many bodily functions because they are the precursors of some hormones, they are a structural part of cell membranes and provide the so-called fat-soluble vitamins which are A, D, E and K, many of the fundamental ones.

In case of hyperlipidemia, it may be useful: metabolic syndrome

Simple and complex lipids

They have now been mapped over 500 types of fat and have been classified according to their molecular structure into three categories: simple, compound and derivative. Let's see their respective characteristics.

THE simple they are in fact the most abundant in our body, they make up about 95% and 98% of our diet to identify with a varied and healthy diet. They represent the main form of deposit and use, in this category there are for example waxes and the well-known triglycerides.

THE compound lipids they are in practice the same simple triglycerides, taken combined with other chemicals such as phosphorus, nitrogen and sulfur. They represent about 10% of the fats of our organism, in this category we find phospholipids, glycolipids and lipoproteins.

In the third class of fats we find the derivatives which, literally, derive from the transformation of simple or compound lipids. In this category there is the dreaded cholesterol but there are also oleic acid and linoleic

Lipids: triglycerides

We want to devote particular attention to triglycerides that result from the union of a glycerol molecule with three fatty acids in turn formed by hydrocarbon chains ranging from a minimum of 4 to a maximum of 20 carbon atoms. Why do we focus on these lipids? Because they are the main storage form of fatty acids.

Lipids and fatty acids

We have mentioned fatty acids, let's see what characteristics they can have, it all depends on the presence or absence of double bonds between two or more carbon atoms. Saturated fatty acids are those without double bonds, while in unsaturated ones we find double bonds. The unsaturated ones, based on the number of double bonds, in turn are divided into monounsaturated, with only one carbon double bond, or polyunsaturated, with more double carbon bonds.

Digestion of lipids

To digest i lipids it takes time and a certain effort is also required from our body, all due to the fact that they are insoluble in water and have a complex structure. The digestion of fats begins in the stomach with an enzyme called gastric lipase which acts as it can, limited by the high acidity of the stomach. THE lipids then they continue their journey and their complete digestion takes place in the small intestine.

In the duodenum, a sub-section of the small intestine, i lipids interact with the secreted bile of the gallbladder, turning into smaller particles. There reduction of fat particles it allows the enzymes that break them down to break them down into progressively smaller particles.

If we take the example of triglycerides, in the digestive process they are first converted into diglycerides, then into monoglycerides and finally into fatty acids and glycerol.

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Video: Function of Lipids (May 2022).