Fatty Acids

Fatty acids can be present as triacylglycerol, as part of lipoprotein particles, and as free fatty acids (bound to albumin). Common fatty acids and their sources are listed in Table 2.

Fatty acids are straight-chain compounds of differing lengths connecting a hydrocarbon group to a hydroxyl group. With only single bonds in the straight chain, the fatty acid is saturated; with one or more additional double bonds, the fatty acid is unsaturated. Fatty acids with only one double bond are said to be monounsaturated (e.g., oleic acid, C18:1), whereas fatty acids with two or more double bonds are said to be polyunsaturated (e.g., ara-chidonic acid, C20:4). The presence of a double

Table 2 Fatty acids and their sources

Fatty acid

Structure Source




Stearic Behanic

Lignoceric Unsaturated






C12:0 C16:0

C18:0 C22:0

C24:0 C18:1


C18:3 C20:4 C20:5

Coconut oil, palm kernel oil Palm oil, milk, butter, cocoa, butter, beef, pork, lamb

Some seed oils, especially peanut

Olive oil, most commonly occurring fatty acid Corn oil, soya bean oil, sunflower oil and sunflower seed oil Linseed oil Fish oils Cod, salmon, pilchard, mussel, oyster

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