Simple Lipids: Classification And Characteristics

The simple lipids are those whose composition involved oxygen, carbon and hydrogen. Its structure is made up of an alcohol and one or more fatty acids.

Lipids are ingested through foods such as dairy products, oils, fish, and nuts, among others. Once inside the body, lipids fulfill very important functions, such as protecting cells through the biological membrane, which covers these cells with a protective layer, which separates them from their environment.

There is a general classification of lipids, according to which they can be unsaponifiable or saponifiable. Unsaponifiable lipids are those that do not contain fatty acids within their structure.

On the other hand, saponifiable lipids are those that do have fatty acids within their composition. Simple lipids fall into this category along with complex lipids, which are characterized by also having oxygen, carbon and hydrogen molecules, but also have sulfur, nitrogen and other elements.

Simple lipids are a large energy reserve in the body and are characterized by being not soluble in water.

Classification of simple lipids

Simple lipids are classified into two large groups: acylglycerides or fats, and cerides.

– Acylglycerides or fats

Acylglycerides are esters made up of glycerol, a compound that has been esterified by one, two or three fatty acids.

Esterification is the process through which an ester is synthesized. An ester is an element that arises from a chemical reaction between an alcohol and a carboxylic acid .

The reason glycerol can react with one, two, or three fatty acids is that each glycerol molecule has three hydroxyl groups.

Depending on the characteristics of the fatty acids that react with glycerol, acylglycerides are divided into two groups:

Saturated fatty acids , which are those in which there are no carbon bonds between them (or double bonds between carbon and carbon), and have all the hydrogens that they can house within the structure.

These acids are characterized by having a more varied composition. Its basic structure is formed by the union of a fatty acid and a monoalcohol (that alcohol that has only one hydroxyl group), both composed of long chains; that is, both chains have a large number of carbons.

In addition to this structure, ceride acids have other elements, such as sterols, ketones, alcohols, among others. This combination of different compounds makes acidic acids highly complex structures.

The acidic acids, also called waxes, have waterproof characteristics, because their two ends are hydrophobic, that is, they reject water.

Waxes are solid when they are at room temperature and can change when pressure is applied.

The acidic acids are present in both animals and plants. In plants they perform a very important function, because they cover the stems, fruits and leaves, thus generating a protective layer that, in addition, makes it difficult for plants to lose excessive water during the evaporation process.

In the case of animals, waxes can be found on the surface of the body, on the hair or feathers of the specimens.

Since the fundamental property of acidic acids is impermeability, the main functions of these acids have to do with processes in which they repel water and protect from external conditions.

Waxes are present in different areas. Some of its most outstanding uses and functions are the following:

– Ear wax prevents external elements from entering the ear canal, which could infect or cause damage.

– From the honeycombs, beeswax can be extracted, which has hydrating, antioxidant, humectant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, among others. Beeswax is often used for cosmetic purposes.

– There is a pictorial technique that consists of using waxes and other pigments in the generation of works of art. This technique is called encaustic painting. It uses a mixture of resin and beeswax called “medium”, which is characterized by being shiny and hardening, so it does not need the use of protective glass.

– Waxes can also be used on textiles. In synthetic fiber fabrics, waxes reduce static electricity and create an even texture.


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