Overview of Dietary Lipid Metabolism

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Chapter: Biochemistry : Dietary Lipid Metabolism

Lipids are a heterogeneous group of water-insoluble (hydrophobic) organic molecules.

Dietary Lipid Metabolism



Lipids are a heterogeneous group of water-insoluble (hydrophobic) organic molecules (Figure 15.1). Because of their insolubility in aqueous solutions, body lipids are generally found compartmentalized, as in the case of membrane-associated lipids or droplets of triacylglycerol in adipocytes, or transported in plasma in association with protein, as in lipoprotein particles, or on albumin. Lipids are a major source of energy for the body, and they also provide the hydrophobic barrier that permits partitioning of the aqueous contents of cells and subcellular structures. Lipids serve additional functions in the body (for example, some fat-soluble vitamins have regulatory or coenzyme functions, and the prostaglandins and steroid hormones play major roles in the control of the body’s homeostasis). Not surprisingly, deficiencies or imbalances of lipid metabolism can lead to some of the major clinical problems encountered by physicians, such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, and obesity.

Figure 15.1 Structures of some common classes of lipids. Hydrophobic portions of the molecules are shown in orange.

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