What are lipids?

Lipids are an organic substance insoluble in water, key in the functioning of metabolism, and composed of hydrogen and carbon.

In the aesthetic sector, lipids are important because they are part of the lipolysis process, in which fats are transformed and eliminated organically.

Functions of lipids

Energy source

They function as a source of energy and, perhaps for this reason, are sometimes confused as a synonym for fats.

However, fats are triglycerides, which are a subgroup of lipids, as are waxes, phospholipids, sterols, sphingolipids, terpenes and eicosanoids.

When we ingest more fat than our body needs, lipids accumulate in adipose tissue and become an extra source of energy for, for example, protection against extreme temperatures or as an additional resource for certain activities.

Transport

Some lipids work together with bile acids and lipoproteins to help transport other compounds through the body.

Thermal regulator

They also function as a natural barrier to regulate body temperature. Fat prevents the body from losing heat.

Communication

Some lipids also function as communicators when they come into contact with the blood.

This serves, for example, for the fatty acids to aid in the development of embryos during pregnancy.

Types of lipids

Triglycerides are the most common type of lipid, both in our body and in food.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a lipid found in cells and the bloodstream. As it is not soluble, it is transported through the body bound to proteins and fats.

It works in the stability of cell membranes and is a precursor of molecules such as vitamin D, sex hormones and bile acids.

There is a cholesterol produced by the body and another one that we ingest through food. In these, it is found only in products of animal origin, such as meat, cream or butter.

Phospholipids

They are lipids containing phosphoric acid. They are composed of molecules that attract and repel water.

Its most important function is the formation of cell membranes. There are different types of phospholipids, especially in the brain.

The most important are phosphatidylcholine, sphingomyelins and cardiolipins.

In a person’s normal diet there are not too many phospholipids, but the body is capable of generating all the phospholipids it needs.

Glycolipids

These lipids are fat molecules whose main characteristic is that they contain a monosaccharide or oligosaccharide (sugar).

They play important roles in cell-cell recognition interactions and in the development of the body’s immune system.

Triglycerides

They are composed of one molecule of glycerol, three molecules of fatty acids and soluble alcohol.

They are present in the body and in food. They are very important in the task of storing energy. Excess triglycerides can be a health problem.

They are the result of the energy accumulation mechanism. They are composed of three fatty acid chains and a glycerol molecule. It is a very stable way of accumulating energy, which is stored inside the adipocytes.

Where do we get it from?

Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in the body. They are derived from vegetable foods, oils and fats. The body stores them when they are not consumed immediately.

Normally, we obtain triglycerides from fatty acids in food. They are transported by lipoproteins through the blood.

A high level of triglycerides in the body can lead to serious health problems, as they block the arteries, with the consequent cardiovascular risk, and can cause inflammation of the pancreas.

Steroids

It is a lipid formed by hormones, such as testosterone and estrogens, together with cholesterol.

They perform regulatory and activation tasks.

Lipids in food

Lipids are used in the cosmetics, food and nanotechnology industries.

In addition to being part of the body, lipids are found in food. There are three types of lipids in foods, each of which has different and other common functions.

These are fats and oils, phospholipids and cholesterol. Its consumption has several benefits, such as increasing the caloric reserve and mobilizing saturated fats. According to the WHO, it regulates cholesterol and prevents possible cardiovascular diseases.