Fatty Acids

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A fatty acid is a carboxylic acid, an organic acid characterized by the presence of a carboxyl group, which is either saturated or unsaturated. Triglycerides are composed of individual fatty acids. It takes three fatty acid molecules to make a single triglyceride molecule. A single glycerol molecule link together fatty acids. The glycerol molecule acts as a “backbone” for the triglyceride.

There are dozens of different types of fatty acids. They are grouped together into three general categories: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. There are many different kinds of fatty acids in each general category.

Saturated Fatty Acids

Acetic acid 2 carbons 0 double bondsVinegar
Butyric acid 4 carbons 0 double bonds Butterfat
Caproic Acid 6 carbons 0 double bonds Butterfat
Caprylic acid 8 carbons 0 double bondsCoconut oil
Capric acid 10 carbons 0 double bondsPalm oil
Lauric acid 12 carbons 0 double bondsCoconut oil
Myristic Acid 14 carbons 0 double bonds Nutmeg oil
Palmitic Acid 16 carbons 0 double bondsAnimal & vegetable oils
Stearic acid 18 carbons 0 double bondsAnimal & vegetable oils
Arachidic acid 20 carbons 0 double bondsPeanut oil

Monounsaturated Fatty Acids

Palmitoeic Acid 16 carbons 1 double bondButterfat
Oleic Acid 18 carbons 1 double bond Olive oil
Erucic Acid 22 carbons 1 double bond Rapeseed or canola oil

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Linoleic acid 18 carbons 2 double bondsVegetable oil
Alpha-Linolenic acid 18 carbons 3 double bonds Linseed oil
Arachidonic acid 20 carbons 4 double bonds Lecithin
Eicosapentaenoic acid 20 carbons 5 double bonds-Fish oils
Docosahexaenoic acid 22 carbons 6 double bondsFish oils

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