The key difference between simple and complex lipids is that simple lipids are esters of fatty acids with alcohols and do not carry other molecules while complex lipids are fatty acids with alcohols and other molecules such as phosphates, nitrogenous base, etc.
Lipids are one of the organic molecules present in living organisms. They are insoluble in water but soluble in ether, alcohol, and chloroform. Furthermore, lipid molecule constitutes of a fatty acid chain and a glycerol molecule. However, this fatty acid chain may or may not contain double bonds between carbon molecules. Based on this, there are two types of lipids as saturated lipids and unsaturated lipids. Similarly, lipids can be either simple lipids, complex lipids or derived lipids. Simple lipids contain fatty acids with glycerol while compound or complex lipids contain other groups such as phosphates, nitrogenous base, carbohydrate, protein, etc. The main aim of this article is to highlight the difference between simple and complex lipids.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Simple Lipids
3. What are Complex Lipids
4. Similarities Between Simple and Complex Lipids
5. Side by Side Comparison – Simple vs Complex Lipids in Tabular Form
What are Simple Lipids?
Simple lipids are esters of fatty acids and glycerols or alcohols. They do not carry other substances, unlike complex lipids. There are two types of simple lipids as fats/oils and waxes.
Fats or oils are esters of fatty acids with glycerols while waxes are esters of fatty acids with alcohols. They are a heterogeneous group of nonpolar compounds. They are soluble only in nonpolar organic solvents such as chloroform and benzene.
What are Complex Lipids?
Complex lipids or compound lipids are another group of lipids composed of fatty acids, alcohols and other groups such as phosphate, nitrogenous bases, proteins, carbohydrates, etc. Based on the group present in the complex lipid, they are different types as phospholipids, glycolipids, lipoproteins, sulfolipids, aminolipids, lipopolysaccharides, etc.
Phospholipids contain fatty acids, alcohols, and phosphoric acid. Glycerophospholipids and Phosphosphingolipids are two types of phospholipids. Glycolipids contain carbohydrates while lipoproteins contain proteins as the other molecules. LDL and HDL are two types of lipoproteins while glycosphingolipids are a type of glycolipids.
What are the Similarities Between Simple and Complex Lipids?
- Simple and complex lipids are two types of lipids.
- Both types are insoluble in water.
- Also, both of them are soluble in ether, chloroform, and alcohols.
- Moreover, they contain fatty acids.
What is the Difference Between Simple and Complex Lipids?
Simple lipids and complex lipids are two types of lipids. Simple lipids do not contain other groups while complex lipids contain other groups such as nitrogenous base, phosphates, carbohydrates, proteins, etc. So, we can consider this as the key difference between simple and complex lipids. Fats, oils, and waxes are some examples of simple lipids while phospholipids, glycolipids, lipoproteins, and lipopolysaccharides are some examples of complex lipids.
Below info-graphic explains the difference between simple and complex lipids comparatively.
Summary – Simple vs Complex Lipids
Lipids are important organic compounds found in living cells. They are important as energy sources as well. Moreover, lipid molecule has two main components:they are the fatty acid chain and a glycerol molecule. The lipids that contain only these groups are simple lipids. Fats, oils, and waxes are simple lipids. However, some lipids contain several other groups attached to the lipid molecule. They are complex lipids. Phosphates, nitrogenous bases, proteins, carbohydrates are some examples for these other groups. Furthermore, phospholipids, lipoproteins, glycolipids, lipopolysaccharides are complex lipids. Thus, this is a summary of the difference between simple and complex lipids.
1. “Lipid.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Feb. 2019, Available here.
2. “Compound Lipids | Phospholipids & Glycolipids | A Level Notes.” A Level Biology, Available here.
1. “Fat triglyceride shorthand formula” By Wolfgang Schaefer – author (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Phospholipid TvanBrussel.edit” By Superscience71421 – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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