Describe the chemical difference between triglycerides and steroids.

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ncchemist eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Triglycerides and steroids are very different chemically from each other.  A triglyceride is basically a lipid, or a fat molecule.  At its base is glycerol, which is a three carbon chain with a hydroxyl group (OH) on each carbon.  Each oxygen atom on the glycerol is attached to a fatty acid ester which has a long hydrocarbon chain.

A steroid is a hormone small molecule that acts as a chemical messenger in the body.  A steroid has at its core four fused carbon rings.  Three of the rings are six membered and the other ring is five membered.  Most of the rings have various groups like alcohols attached to them and the five membered ring usually has a carbon chain attached to it.

pranitingale | Student


Glycerol is a small molecule with three OH groups emerging from a short carbon chain, while Fatty acids are long chains of carbon atoms with a COOH group at one end.

• Fatty acids react with glycerol to bond their long chains to the OH group in glycerol. When three fatty acids join on all three of the OH groups in glycerol, a triglyceride (fat) is formed.


• Steroids are fat-soluble hormones with a tetracyclic base structure. The base structure consists of four fused rings: three cyclohexane rings and one cyclopentane.

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