Lipids, oils and fats

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Key points

  • Lipids include fats (solid at room temperature) and oils (liquid at room temperature).

  • Lipids are an important part of a healthy diet. The body uses lipids as an energy store, as insulation and to make cell membranes.

Lipids in food

Video

Discover how lipids are used in making ice cream

Can you answer these questions based on the video?

1. What do you need to make ice cream?

2. What is the name for something that binds things together such as egg yolk in ice cream?

  1. Milk, cream and sugar.

  2. An emulsifier.

The types of lipids

Lipids are formed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. There are two types of lipids:

  • Oils - These are liquid at room temperature. Fish has a high oil content.

  • Fats - These are solid at room temperature. Butter is high in fat.

Here are some examples of foods which contain lipids:

FatsOils
ButterSeeds
BeefNuts
CheeseFish

How does the body use lipids?

Every cell in your body has a cell membrane which is made of lipids. Some hormones, including sex hormones, are made from a lipid called cholesterol.

Fat is also an important energy store for the body. In addition, the layer of fat under your skin provides insulation and thin layers of fat protect vital organs.

How much lipid do you need?

Lipids are an essential component of a balanced diet. In the body, lipid molecules can be broken down to make smaller molecules of fatty acids and glycerol.

Some fatty acids, called essential fatty acids, are vital for health. They can be found in foods such as nuts, seeds or fish.

It is important not to each too much fatty or oily food. This is because small amounts of lipid-rich foods can store large amounts of energy. Eating too much fatty or oily food, whilst not getting enough exercise, may cause obesity. Adults and teenagers are advised to eat no more than 70 g of fat per day.

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