Functions of Lipids
Lipids play an important role in living organisms. Previously, lipids were only recognized for their role in storing energy or forming cell membranes, but now we know that lipids play a much more important role in the body than previously believed. Within the body, lipids also function as an energy reserve, chemical messengers, hormone regulator and others. In addition, lipids also play an important role in food, which serve as an energy source with high caloric density, add texture and taste, contribute to satiety and meet people's daily dietary needs. Here is a summary of key functions of lipids in body and foods provided by Alfa Chemistry.
Functions of Lipids in Body
- Component of the cell membrane: Lipids are part of structural components of cells, such as cell membranes. For example, glycolipids and phospholipid are structural components in the cell membrane. And the cellular membrane also contains some non-glyceride lipids, which include sphingomyelin and sterols that are involved in membrane flexibility.
- Energy storage: Most of energy required by body comes from carbohydrates and lipids. In fact, 30-70% of the energy used during rest comes from fat. Fat contains more than twice as much energy as carbohydrates under the same weight. The energy provided by lipids is mainly utilized during starvation, fasting, or bodily exercise, especially after glycogen is depleted. Triglycerides present in adipose tissue are the main energy source for plants and animals.
- Chemical messengers: All multicellular organisms use chemical messengers to transmit information between organelles and to transmit signaling to other cells. Lipids are excellent candidates for signaling, and they activate different signaling pathways by binding to G-coupled receptors or nuclear receptors. The lipids involved in signaling functions include sphingosine-1-phosphate, diacylglycerol, phosphatidylinositol phosphate, prostaglandins, estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, oxysterol, phosphatidylserine and etc.
- Insulating and protecting: There are two kinds of fat in the body: visceral fat and subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat surrounds vital organs such as the heart, kidneys and liver, and acts as a buffer against mechanical shock, fixing and protecting the organs. Since fat is a poor conductor of heat, subcutaneous fat prevents heat loss and helps protect the body from cold and extreme temperatures. In addition, it cushions areas that are often in contact with hard surfaces, such as hands and hips, to prevent friction.
- Regulating: Some lipids like triglycerides help the body produce and regulate hormones. For example, adipose tissue secretes the hormone leptin, which regulates appetite. Omega-3 and omega-6 help regulate cholesterol and blood clotting and control inflammation in the joints, tissues, and bloodstream.
- Others: Apart from the above-mentioned functions, lipids have the functions of aiding digestion, increasing bioavailability and others.
Functions of Lipids in Foods
- High energy source: Fat-rich foods naturally have a high caloric density. Foods that are high in fat containing more calories than foods that are high in proteins or carbohydrates. As a result, high-fat foods are a convenient source of energy.
- Smell, taste and satiety: Fat contains dissolved compounds that contribute to mouth-watering aromas and flavors. Fat also adds texture to food, for example, baked foods are supple and moist. In addition, fat contributes to satiety, or the sensation of fullness. When fatty foods are swallowed the body responds by enabling the processes controlling digestion to retard the movement of food along the digestive tract, thus promoting an overall sense of fullness.
As a leading global supplier of lipids, Alfa Chemistry has accumulated extensive knowledge and experience in research of lipids functions. If you need any help, you can contact us and we will provide you with professional advice and solution. In addition, we deliver a wide range of high-quality lipids and offer superior lipid-related services. Please feel free to contact us if necessary.