Fatty Facts for Fancy Foodies


Foods that contain dietary fats have lipids. Lipids are not water soluble, which makes it harder to digest because it forms globs. When the fats enter the small intestine they are still undigested. Bile from the gallbladder (created in the liver) mixes with the fats. The bile salts act as an emulsifier of lipids, meaning it turns larger pieces of fat into smaller ones. Creating more surface area by making smaller droplets, the pancreatic lipase can work to digest the fat. Thus creates two byproducts, monoglycerides, and free fatty acids. These products can then be absorbed from the digestive tract through the walls of the small intestine. After being absorbed into the epithelial cells of the intestine walls, the endoplasmic reticulum resynthesizes the products into triglycerides. This is the major form of fat used by the body. They are then coated by proteins, making these particles chylomicrons (lipoproteins). These can leave the epithelial cells and go into the lymphatic system by way of lacteals (or lymphatic capillaries). Now they can travel to become myelin, cell walls, and the familiar form of body fat.

Fats make up the phospholipid bilayer that cells use to separate themselves from the extracellular fluid. It also supports the structure of the cells and offers a place for transport proteins to exist. They also make up myelin, the protective parts of neurons in the body that also aid in boosting the signals carried by those neurons. Lastly, the fats help the body insulate by adding a layer of cushion between our blood, muscles, and skin.

Essential fatty acids are those that animals require for bodily functions, but are not created within the body. These fats are acquired by eating.

Omega fatty acids are essential fatty acids. They are found in fish and some plants. They get their name from the location of the double bond between the first unsaturated carbon (counted from the methyl group side). This is either the third carbon or the sixth.

Fatty acids are long chains of carbon and hydrogens. The ends of these chains are marked by a carboxyl group and methyl group. A triglyceride is made from three fatty acids and one glycerol. They make up the fats.

Saturated means that the carbons all have single bonds between themselves. They are not unsaturated by double bonds. The unsaturated fats contain double bonds between some carbons to make up for the hydrogens not present to bond with the carbons.

Phospholipids are the makeup of the bilayer that surrounds the outsides of animal cells. they can be found in meats. It’s made of a rigid steroid ring structure under a polar head with a non-polar hydrocarbon tail. They play a vital role in keeping cells together.

Sterol refers to naturally occurring unsaturated steroid alcohols. It’s made up of carbon rings attached to a hydroxyl group. Found in plants like wheat, nuts and vegetable oils. They help the body lower cholesterol.

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