Are lipids and fats the same thing? Are they synonyms for each other?

Expert Answers

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Lipids is a broad group of molecules that include fats and other nutrients.  They are essential to provide energy, to sustain life, and to insure the proper functioning of your body.

The biggest difference between lipids and fats is the form they take at room temperature.  Lipids (oils) take a liquid form; fats take a solid form.  This is due to their molecular structure.  The basis of both is a combination of a molecule called glycerol (a type of alcohol) and three fatty acids.  Scientists refer to this combination as triglycerides.  The triglycerides break down inside our bodies into simpler forms that can be absorbed by each individual cell.

Here is a closer look at the Lipid family and some examples:

1)  Fatty acids:  molecules of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen that carry nutrients through the blood stream.  Example:  fish oil

2)  Phosopholipids:  molecules that are soluble in both water and oil and act as emulsifiers to mix oil-based and water-based substances together.  Example:  lecithin (found in egg yolks)

3)  Steroids:  cholesterol-based nutrient necessary for proper endocrine function and the formation of Vitamin D.  Example:  sex hormones

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