Types of Fatty Acids

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•  Fatty acids can be saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated

Fatty acids are long hydrocarbon chains that are found in certain types of lipids (triglycerides & phospholipids)

  • Fatty acids may differ in the length of the hydrocarbon chain (typically 4 – 24 carbons) and in the number of double bonds

Fatty acids that possess no double bonds are saturated (have maximum number of H atoms)

  • Saturated fatty acids are linear in structure, originate from animal sources (i.e. fats) and are typically solid at room temperatures

Fatty acids with double bonds are unsaturated – either monounsaturated (1 double bond) or polyunsaturated (>1 double bond)

  • Unsaturated fatty acids are bent in structure, originate from plant sources (i.e. oils) and are typically liquid at room temperatures

Types of Fatty Acids

saturated vs unsaturated

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•  Unsaturated fatty acids can be cis or trans isomers

Unsaturated fatty acids may occur in two distinct structural configurations – cis and trans isomers

Cis: The hydrogen atoms attached to the carbon double bond are on the same side

Trans: The hydrogen atoms attached to the carbon double bond are on different sides

Trans fatty acids do not commonly occur in nature and are typically produced by an industrial process called hydrogenation

Trans fatty acids are generally linear in structure (despite being unsaturated) and are usually solid at room temperature

Types of Fatty Acid Configurations

types of fatty acids