Topic 5 Lipids

  • It is commonly believed that lipids are bad!
  • On the contrary, lipids are essential to creating cell membranes, storing energy, and signaling
  • Lipids comprise fatty acids, phospholipids, fat-soluble vitamins, and more!

Fatty Acids

  • Fatty acids are the building blocks of fats and can be combined with glycerol to form triglycerides, the most common lipid in our diet and body
  • Fats can be either saturated or unsaturated

Saturated Fatty Acids v Unsaturated Fatty Acids

  • Saturated fats are known as “bad fats.”
    • Solids at room temperature, resist oxidization, and do not turn rancid when exposed to air
    • Saturated fat is mostly found in animal-derived products, such as butter, whole milk, milk cream, and meat as well as in tropical oils like coconut and palm.
    • Excessive consumption of saturated fats can increase the “bad cholesterol” LDL, which can increase the risk of stroke or cardiovascular disease
  • Unsaturated fatty acids known as “good fat”
    • Liquid at room temperature
    • Found in plant-based products like sunflower oil, olive oil, nuts, avocados, and in small quantities in wholegrain products.

Unsaturated Fatty Acids: Sources and Effects

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Development of the eye, skin, and brain

Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA)

Used to Create EPA

Eicosatetraenoic Acid (EPA)

Decreases inflammation

Docosa hexaenoic Acid (DHA)

Important for pregnancy and lactation

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Variety of body functions. Excess can cause inflammation

Linolenic Acid

Anti-inflammatory, promotes hair and skin growth

Omega-9 Fatty Acids

Boosts Energy and Brain Function

Trans Fatty Acids

  • Trans fatty acids are the worst type of fats
  • Trans fatty acids are different due to a bond difference that makes them even more stable and solid
  • Trans fatty acids can greatly increase blood cholesterol, increase inflammation, and elevate the risk of having heart disease
  • Trans fatty acids have been heavily regulated, yet the main sources remain industrialized hydrolyzed vegetable oils and animal fat


  • Cholesterol is used to form cell membranes and steroid hormones, bile acid, and vitamin D
  • Cholesterol is found in high-fat animal products like liver, egg yolks, red meat, fish oil, and butter
  • Blood cholesterol level is actually related to the amount of trans and saturated fats consumed rather than the amount of cholesterol consumed.