June 9, 2023

Lipid is the chemical term for fats and oils. It’s an essential nutrient that the body needs to function fully. Its function is to absorb vitamins and minerals in the body.

Fats are complex organic compounds containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in which carbon and hydrogen are in a high proportion while oxygen is in little proportion.

Fats are not soluble in the water but soluble in solvents like kerosene, ether, chloroform, and benzene, and can be found in both plants and animals.

Liquid fats are called oils. Oils can be obtained from plant and animal fats through the process of heating (e.g groundnut, coconut, melon, kernel, and oil palm fruits). They can be further hardened into forms like butter by cooling, freezing, and hydrogenation.

Lipids are made up of?

-Fatty acids

– Glycerides

– Phospolipids


What Are Fatty Acids?

Fatty Acids

Each fatty acid consists of a chain of carbon linked to hydrogen with an acid group at one end. It is produced by the breakdown of fats (usually triglycerides or phospholipids) through a process called hydrolysis. The general formula is CnH2n+1 COOH (carboxylic group, making the molecule acids).

Types of Fatty Acids

Fatty acids are classified in many ways by the following:

1. Length: short-chain fatty acids, medium-chain fatty acids, long-chain fatty acids.

2. Even-vs-odd-chained fatty acids: this means that they are composed of an even number of carbon atoms. E.g stearic and oleic. While others composed of odd numbers are referred to as odd-chained fatty acids.

They are found mostly in dairy products. E.g pentadecanoic and heptadecanoic acids.

3. Unsaturated fatty acids: are those that have one or more double (C=C) bonds with the ability to absorb additional atoms. With this, they are further categorized into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Typical examples are:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Omega-6 fatty acids
  • Olive
  • Peanut and Canola oils
  • Avocados
  • Nuts (including hazelnut, almonds, and pecans)
  • Seeds (including pumpkin, and sesame seeds)

What Are The Health Benefits of Unsaturated Fats?

Eating unsaturated fats has been proven to be healthy for the body, it becomes unhealthy when it’s eaten too much. The following are the benefits of eating unsaturated fats:

  • Lowers the level of LDL cholesterol.
  • Reduces Inflammation
  • Builds stronger cell membrane
  • Reduces the risk of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Absorbs Vitamins, such as A, D, E, and K.
  • Improves the brain positively (Omega-3 fats)

4. Saturated Fats: these are those that have no (C=C) double bond, but have a single bond between their molecules and are saturated with hydrogen molecules.

It is one of the unhealthy fats along with trans fats. They are solid at room temperature.

Sources are butter, palm and coconut oils, cheese, red meat, and ice cream. Red meat has a high amount of saturated fat.

What Saturated Fats Do To Your Body

  • Increases the risk of heart disease: in as much as your body needs fats for its function and absorption of vitamins and minerals, too much of it can support the building up of cholesterol in the arteries (in the blood vessels) which raises the LDL cholesterol and lead to the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Weight gain: eating too many fats can add extra calories and cause weight gain which can increase the chances of:

– Obesity

– Diabetes

– High blood pressure

What are Triglycerides?

Most lipids in food and in the body are in form of triglycerides. They consist of 3fatty acids attached to a glycerol molecule and are major chemical constituents of vegetable oils.

That is, your body makes glyceride and also gets it from the foods you eat. They are fats from the food you eat and are carried in the blood, that is fat in the blood.

What Causes High Triglycerides?

Your body converts any calories it does not need into triglycerides, and they are stored in the fat cells resulting in high triglycerides.

This happens when you eat more calories than your body can burn, particularly from high-carbohydrate foods. As such, you are likely to have high triglycerides.

What Are The Adverse Effects of High Triglycerides?

  • Strokes
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Metabolic syndrome such as heart attack, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
  • Low levels of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism)

Why Are Triglycerides Different From Cholesterol?

Although both are fatty substances called lipids. Triglycerides are different from cholesterol because triglycerides are fats formed as a result of stored-unused calories which provides your body with energy.

While cholesterol is a non-fat, waxy, and odorless substance made by the liver and used to build cell walls, helps the nervous system and plays a vital role in both digestion and hormone production.

How Do I Know My Triglyceride Is High?

High triglycerides, also known as hypertriglyceridemia, are very dangerous to your health if left untreated.

Although high triglycerides rarely manifest clinical symptoms, you need to check your lipid profile or lipid panel to know both the levels of total cholesterol and triglyceride.

For accurate results, you should not eat (I.e. fast) for 8 to 12 hours before the lipid profile test.

Your health care providers will tell you when to come for the test, preferably in the morning hours. They will also determine your total cholesterol by looking at a combination of triglycerides, HDL, and LDL.

The range of Lipid profiles or Lipid panel tests:

Normal range: Less than 150mg/dL

Moderate: 150- 199 my/dL (1.8 to 2.2mmol/L)

High: 200- 499mg/dL (2.3 to 5.6mmol/L)

Very High: 500mg/do and above (5.7mmol/L and above)

What Causes High Triglycerides?

  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Obesity
  • Liver disease or kidney disease
  • Smoking
  • Hereditary
  • Menopause

Sometimes it may be due to a high intake of the following medications:

– Steroids

– Retinoids

– Bet-blockers

– Diuretics

– Estrogen and progestin

– Some HIV medications

How To Prevent or Lower High Triglycerides?

  • Exercise regularly
  • Monitor your blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Control your high blood sugar
  • Reduce your alcohol intake
  • Avoid sugar and refined carbs
  • Avoid saturated fats and trans fats.

What Are The Medications Best For High Triglycerides?

If you notice your triglycerides are high after a lipid profile test, your health care provider will prescribe the medication best for the treatment.

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