Triacylglycerols Are Fatty Acid Esters of Glycerol

The simplest lipids constructed from fatty acids are the triacylglycerols, also referred to as triglycerides, fats, or neutral fats. Triacylglycerols are composed of three fatty acids each in ester linkage with a single glycerol (Fig. 10-2). Those containing the same kind of fatty acid

Triacylglycerol
FIGURE 10-2 Glycerol and a triacylglycerol. The mixed triacylglyc-erol shown here has three different fatty acids attached to the glycerol backbone. When glycerol has two different fatty acids at C-1 and C-3, the C-2 is a chiral center (p. 76).

in all three positions are called simple triacylglycerols and are named after the fatty acid they contain. Simple triacylglycerols of 16:0, 18:0, and 18:1, for example, are tristearin, tripalmitin, and triolein, respectively. Most naturally occurring triacylglycerols are mixed; they contain two or more different fatty acids. To name these compounds unambiguously, the name and position of each fatty acid must be specified.

Because the polar hydroxyls of glycerol and the polar carboxylates of the fatty acids are bound in ester linkages, triacylglycerols are nonpolar, hydrophobic molecules, essentially insoluble in water. Lipids have lower specific gravities than water, which explains why mixtures of oil and water (oil-and-vinegar salad dressing, for example) have two phases: oil, with the lower specific gravity, floats on the aqueous phase.

Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.

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