Characteristics of fats in general

*Fats are comprised of fatty acids bound, in bundles of three, to glycerol. There are about 20 different fatty acids that may be connected to glycerol in natural fats.

*Fatty acids are either saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Those whose structures have the maximum number of hydrogen atoms are called saturated and those which are lacking hydrogen atoms at certain points in the structure are classified as unsaturated.

A saturated fatty acid
*Fats contains mixtures of all three types of fatty acids; the balance of the mix determines whether the fat is generally saturated (hard) or polyunsaturated (soft).

An unsaturated fatty acid
 *The amount of unsaturated fatty acids in a fat affects the temperature at which the fat melts. The more unsaturated a fat, the more liquid it is at room temperature.

*Fats are smooth, greasy substance that are insoluble in water. It is mainly a fuel source for the animal or plant in which it is found or for the animal that eats it.

*In digestion, bile acids act as detergents to solubilize fats to aids digestion. *In transport, the fatty material is surrounded by a coat of protein plus phospholipid. The full particle is a lipoprotein.

*The liver can convert carbohydrate to fat, which is exported from the liver as a lipoprotein. The lipoprotein complex responsible for transporting lipids from the small intestine is in the form of chylomicrons. It is the chylomicrons that responsible for the ‘milky’ appearance of blood plasma that occurs after a meal rich in fat has been eaten.

*Certain polyunsaturated fatty acids are nutritionally essentially because:
1. They are the precursors of the vitality important regulators of metabolism, the prostaglandins
2. The body cannot make them from either carbohydrate or existing dietary fatty acids.
Characteristics of fats in general
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