NC A&T University

What are Lipids?

December 15, 2013

By Rishipal Bansode, PhD, NC A&T Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies

Lipids are a variety of compounds that are non-soluble in water and include fats, oil, waxes, phospholipids and steroids that are easily stored in the body. Because some lipids are fats, they often get a bad rap.

Actually, lipids are involved in very important body functions. For example, they insulate and protect the body. They facilitate communication between cell membranes, are part of the digestive process and absorb and transport nutrients. Types of lipids include fatty acids- saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated- cholesterol, triglycerides and trans fats.

Benefits and Risks 

A diet that is too high in fats, especially saturated, can lead to weight gain and hyperlipidemia, which is elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides that substantially raise the risk for developing heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and stroke.

To keep lipid levels in check, focus on eating more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like those found in olive, peanut and canola oils. Eat nuts, fish and other omega-3 rich foods as well as lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Read more about lipids and their health benefits and risks.

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