What Is Fat Made Of?

by | Jul 2, 2021 | Nutrition

Image: Shutterstock

When we digest the food we eat, the fats in the food are broken down into their parts, and fatty acids move through the intestinal walls, into the body.

Many living things contain a kind of substance that we call fat, which is essential to their existence. Because the things we eat were once living things, our food also contains fat.

Fat is made of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms arranged in particular ways. Every molecule of fat includes three chains of those atoms, looking something like this:

Each chain is called a fatty acid. The three chains are held together by a short piece called glycerol (highlighted in blue above). Here’s an example of a fatty acid named stearic acid.

When we digest the food we eat, the fats in the food are broken down into their parts, and fatty acids move through the intestinal walls, into the body. These fatty acids can then be used to generate energy or to make things that our body needs, like cell walls or the protective oils on skin.

Fatty acids are absolutely essential to survival, but are also involved in various unhealthy conditions, such as obesity, fatty liver disease, and cardiovascular disease. The more you know about them, the better the chance that you can stay on their good side.

Fundamentals of Health Alliance

Fundamentals of Health Alliance

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The Fundamentals of Health Alliance works to publish useful and reliable information about nutrition and health. Their mission is to empower readers to be informed with honest, non-biased information about food, nutrition and the vital components of health.

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