The lipid component of meat and meat products includes a diverse group of substances, such as gly-cerides (glycerol with fatty acids attached), phospho-lipids, and sterols. The basic component of most meat lipids is the fatty acids, which can be saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated.

The relative amount of lipid in muscle foods is probably the most variable aspect of the nutritional profile. Within the lipid component, the relative amount of the different forms of fatty acids present is another variable among meat products. Despite the common reference to animal fats (and especially meat and meat products) as 'saturated,' less than half of all the fatty acids of meats are saturated.

The largest proportions of fatty acids in meats are monounsaturated, followed by saturated and then polyunsaturated fatty acids. Among meat products, poultry has a higher proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids and slightly less saturated fatty acids compared to other meat sources.

The fat in meat products provides much of the flavor associated with these foods and also contributes to the palatability and overall acceptability by consumers.

In addition, the fats in meat and meat products also contain several essential fatty acids (linoleic and linolenic acid), and they contain the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

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