Fatty Acids vs Triglycerides
Lipids are a class of nutrients that mainly include triglycerides (fats and oils), phospholipids, and sterols. Fatty acid and triglycerides are organic substances; contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms.
What are Fatty Acids?
Fatty acids are organic substances made up of a long carbon chain with hydrogen atoms attached and a methyl group (-CH3) at one end and an acid group (-COOH) at the other end. Depending on the presence of C=C double bonds, fatty acids can be divided into two types; saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids do not contain any C=C double bond, whereas unsaturated fatty acids do. Most natural fatty acids contain even numbers of carbon atoms, up to 24 atoms in length. However, the structure and function of fatty acid may vary depending on their length of the carbon chain, amount, and the location of double bonds present in the chain.
There are two types of unsaturated fatty acids, namely monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The monounsaturated fatty acids are the fatty acids which lack two H atoms and contain one double bond between two adjacent carbon atoms. This types of fatty acids forms the monounsaturated fat. The polyunsaturated fatty acids contain two or more C=C double bonds and lack four or more H atoms and are responsible to form polyunsaturated fats. Fatty acids are derived from the triglycerides and phospholipids. Some examples for fatty acids are linoleic acid, stearic acid, and oleic acid.
Triglycerides include fats and oils and are considered as the most abundant lipid type in foods and in the body. Triglyceride is an organic ester formed by esterification of glycerol molecule and three fatty acid chains. A mixture of triglyceride molecules that contain a high percentage of long-chain saturated fatty acids is called fats, whereas a mixture of triglycerides that contain a high percentage of unsaturated fatty acids or short-chain saturated fatty acids are called oils. Some triglycerides molecules are composed of three identical fatty acids. However, in most cases two or three different fatty acids molecules are found in triglyceride molecules. Triglyceride is insoluble in water due to the presence of large hydrocarbon chains.
What is the difference between Fatty Acids and Triglycerides?
• Fatty acids are carboxylic acids with -COOH parts, whereas triglycerides are organic esters.
• Fatty acids are derived from triglycerides.
• Three fatty acid molecules and one glycerol molecule undergo esterification to form one triglyceride molecule.
• Unlike the triglycerides, fatty acids can be divided into two categories depending on the presence of C=C double bonds. However, both these types are involved to form triglyceride molecules.