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Fatty acids are a source of energy for many living organisms. There are 3 main types of fat:

  1. Saturated Fats
  2. Unsaturated Fats
  3. Trans Fats

Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products and are solid at room temperature. They are saturated due to containing no double carbon-carbon bonds in its structure. A high intake of saturated fats can lead to health problems such a coronary heart disease. Unsaturated fats come in many forms such as polyunsaturated fats (many/multiple double carbon-carbon bonds) and monounsaturated fats (one double carbon-carbon bond present). Unlike saturated fats these are commonly found in plant sources for example seeds and nuts. These fats are in liquid form at room temperature. There seems to be a correlation between a decrease in cholesterol levels and unsaturated fats, which shows they play a major health benefit and could possibly play a role in decreasing the risk of heart disease[1].

Fatty acids also play a major sturcural role in organisms. Fatty acids are a component of cell membranes and are organised into bilayers. The fatty acids are made up of two hydrophobic fatty acid tails which face inwards in the bilayer, and then a hydrophilic head, which consists of a polar group, a phosphate molecule and glycerol. Due to fatty acids having hydrophobic tails and a hydrophilic head they are referred to as being amphiphilic.[2]

Trans fats are a type of fat that can occur naturally and artificially. The naturally-occurring trans fats in animals are produced in the gut, they may also be found in small amounts of foods from these animals, such as meat products. Artificial trans fats (also known as trans fatty acids) are created by a process that causes liquid vegetable oils to become more solid by adding hydrogen in industry.[3]


  1. hhtp://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sportsnutrition/a/Fat.htm, 29/11/2013, 12/10/2007, Elizabeth Quinn.
  2. Bruce Alberts et al, 2008, Molecular Biology of The Cell, Fifth Edition, New York, Garland Science.
  3. Trans Fat. American Heart Association. 2017 [cited 5 December 2017]. Available from: https://healthyforgood.heart.org/eat-smart/articles/trans-fat

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