What are Lipids and Why do we Need Them? All the answers!

What are lipids?

Lipids are a type of fat that your body can't produce on its own. They're found in many foods, including meat and dairy products.

If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can lead to heart disease or stroke. And if you don't get enough lipids from food, your body will make them from carbohydrates, leading to weight gain and diabetes.

Today we are going to talk about lipids! To learn more about the health benefits of lipids and how they affect our bodies, read this blog post!

Table of Contents

What are Lipids?

Lipids are a group of molecules in the body made up of fats, cholesterol, and animal waxes. They are everywhere in our bodies, including the membranes that line our cells, and they also make up bile, which helps break down fat for absorption. Lipids include fatty acids and glycolipids (a type of lipid).

The fatty acid chain comprises an even number of carbon atoms, where one end has the ―COOH group and the other end has hydrogen. This makes it prone to be acidic due to its carboxylate (―COO).

Our bodies synthesize lipids by Lipogenesis. For example, Acetyl CoA is used to create lipids (fat), and this process takes place in the cytoplasm of adipocytes (fat cells) and hepatocytes (liver cells). So, when you eat more glucose or carbohydrates than your body needs, acetyl CoA turns excess into fat.

Lipid types

  1. Triglycerides. Triglycerides are fats that can be solid or semisolid at room temperature. If the three fatty acids in a triglyceride are identical, it is called simple triglyceride. Mixed Triglycerides have different fat content, and their melting point depends on how many of each type there are and what types they consist of. (Trusted Source 1*)
  2. Phospholipids, which are components of all cell membranes. (2*)
  3. Steroids, such as cholesterol (which has only weak vitamin D activity), bile acids, and steroids.
  4. Glycolipids, such as cerebrosides and gangliosides, are important constituents of the brain and nerve tissues. (3*)
  5. Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K.) They contain an oily part or 'fat' in a watery part that dissolves in water. (4*)
  6. Fatty acids. They have a similar structure to triglycerides.  They help form cell membranes and other compounds needed by the body and act as important energy sources for cells. (5*)

Saturated versus unsaturated fatty acids

The fatty acid does not contain a double-coated carbon-carbon bond like other saturated fats. These types of saturated fat are prevalent in animals, usually solidifying at room temperature and found most commonly in plants with unsaturated agents.

It is important to know how molecules interact with one another. As a result, there are many different ways that fat can be less saturated. For example, it could overlap only 1 or many double bonds and still not allow the packing mechanisms that cause liquid ingredients to become solid at room temperature.

The most common unsaturated fat is polyunsaturated, which can be found in solid and liquid form. Unsaturates are typically at a lower boiling point than saturated fats because they have more places for hydrogen to move around.

Lipid Sources

lipid sources

There are many sources for lipids, both good and bad. However, the main dietary source for lipids is fats.

Bad lipid sources

Bad sources of lipids include:

  1. Fat cuts of pork, lamb, and beef.
  2. Poultry skin.
  3. Whole milk.
  4. High fat cheese.
  5. Ice cream.
  6. Butter.
  7. Palm oil.
  8. Cocoa butter.
  9. Coconut oil.
  10. Fried foods.
  11. Packaged snack foods.
  12. Commercially-baked pastries, muffins, cakes, cookies, pizza.
  13. Margarine.

Bad sources of lipids come from trans-fats found in processed or fried foods, linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. There's also a type of trans-fat called ruminant trans-fat that comes from cows, which is considered good for you and has been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Some types of lipids come from cholesterol. Cholesterol is found in every cell of the body, including those in your brain, and it helps make up cell membranes.

Fats are essential for the body's normal functions. Without fats, people would be sick and die in a matter of weeks. However, fats are stored as adipose tissue inside fat cells, which can lead to obesity.

Good lipid sources

Good sources of lipids include:

  1. Olives.
  2. Nuts (Cashews & Almonds)
  3. Sunflower Seeds
  4. Avocados
  5. Salmon.
  6. Tuna.
  7. Mackerel
  8. Legumes.
  9. Olive oil.

Fatty acids are essential for the body's normal functioning, but they can be bad for people who have too much fat in their diet. This is because the body converts excess fatty acids into cholesterol, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Good sources of fats include soybeans and sunflower oils.

Cholesterol is also important for the body's normal functioning. For example, it helps the brain function and is vital for producing sex hormones, including estrogen.

There are also many types of lipids that you may have never heard of, like phospholipids or glycolipids (found in your cell membranes).

Many lipids are found in animal fats, but some lipids are found in your bloodstream and are broken down from the foods you eat.

If you want to live a healthy life, you must eat foods with unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fat oils are derived from plants and as such. Therefore, they contain more nutrients than saturated animal-based products.

Additionally, when these types of oil boil at a low temperature, it can be difficult for them to maintain their structure, making cooking certain recipes much easier on the cook!

Functions of Lipids in the body

lipids in human body

Besides the fact that your body needs dietary fats to work properly, there are many functions for lipids, including:

Making up cell membranes.

Lipids are amphiphilic, meaning that they contain both hydrophilic and hydrophobic parts. In addition, lipids make up the phospholipid bilayer which is what makes up cell membranes. This allows for selective permeability in cells by allowing certain things to pass through while others do not.

Lipids are used in membranes of cells because they are amphipathic

A lipid bilayer is required around the plasma membrane to maintain cell integrity and keep out unwanted substances. Lipids are also involved in cell signaling processes when certain receptors embedded within the lipid bilayers bind with specific signaling molecules.

Helping cells to exchange substances with their surroundings.

Lipid bilayers allow certain substances to pass in and out of the membrane, allowing cells to exchange things with their environments.

Cell Protection

One of the functions that lipids provide is protection. Forming a lipid bilayer around every cell membrane acts as a protective barrier and prevents entering or leaving the cell.

Essential nutrients, such as essential fatty acids, serve two important purposes. First, they play an integral role in producing a cell's membrane and are also needed to synthesize hormones like testosterone and estrogen.

Fatty acid residues are molecules that create the insides of cells or a lipid. They're created from acetyl-CoA and others called 'malonyl' groups.

The importance of these compounds can't be overstated because, without them, our bodies would not function properly at all!

Cell Storage

Lipids are also used for the storage of things in the body and cells in general. For example, they can store an energy source or as a term reservoir for certain molecules that may get stored within the lipid bilayer portions.

Cells also have ways of storing lipids in specific areas. One example of this is lipid droplets that can store large amounts of lipids and provide them for the cell when it needs it.

Helping us to see

Lipids have an important role in vision. By forming lipid rafts, they help transmit light signals from the retina to the central nervous system, which we can have sight.

They help us to store energy as fat.

Lipids also play a role in storing energy as fat for use when needed. In addition, they may be used as part of hormone synthesis and in the endocrine system.

While Lipids are part of many different cells in the body, they play an important role in hormone synthesis and as a means for transporting hormones around the body.

Lipids contribute to having healthy hair and nails.

Lipids allow us to have healthy hair and nails because it forms structures called keratin, which helps make up these structures.

Working with hormones.

An essential function of lipids is working with hormones. Not only can they be used for making up the structure and storage of certain types of hormones, but they can also be a means for transferring them around the body. Some examples of this are insulin being stored in vesicles within cells which, when secreted into the bloodstream, causes changes in blood glucose levels. It can also be used for transferring steroid hormones from one part of the body to another by secretions or other means.

Another example is neurotransmitters which are stored in vesicles within the cell. These vesicles will fuse with the plasma membrane and release their contents into the surrounding area when they are needed. Again, this is important for communication processes between neurons.

They can help to regulate blood pressure.

Lipids also play a role in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels by helping to store certain proteins within the lipid bilayers of cells that can help promote vascular relaxation, which will reduce your blood pressure.

They help the body control its temperature.

Lipids also have an important role in regulating body temperature by helping with the insulation of the body. As a result, they help to prevent heat loss and keep you warm.

Lipids can be used for transportation.

Another way lipids are involved in providing energy for cells is because they can form structures that will create the movement of substances along a cell membrane.

They help our digestive system.

Lipids also play a key role in digestion. They help break down fats as they pass through the digestive tract. This is important because it helps the body absorb fats and other nutrients vital for survival in the bloodstream.

They help support the nervous system.

Another way lipids play a role in our bodies is by providing support to our nervous systems. The myelin sheaths that surround nerve tissues are made from phospholipids. They are also used as insulation and can be found around certain parts of the nervous system.

They are also important in uterine contractions, which is an important part of reproduction. Uterine contractions help to transport a fertilized egg from the fallopian tubes to the uterus.

Lipids help protect our bodies from harmful invaders

Another way lipids play a role in keeping us healthy is by helping to protect them from harmful invaders. They help create barriers because certain lipids merge at the membrane level, which will keep things out.

They also play a role in the immune system.

This is important because lipids can fuse or merge with infected or damaged cells, destroy them, and clean up that area.

Lipids can be used to build living cells.

Another way lipids play a role in the body is by helping with building living cells. They are incorporated into the membrane, which is made of phospholipid and cholesterol, which will help protect organelles from degrading the contents within them. Cell membranes will also help to regulate the movement of ions and other components.

There are many functions of lipids, and they are found everywhere in your body. For example, some cells contain more lipids than others, like fat cells that store excess energy from food!

Why is it important to maintain healthy lipid levels?

Lipids are a broad class of naturally occurring molecules that include fats, oils, and waxes. Lipids serve many functions in the body, including providing structural support for cell membranes, helping certain hormones function, and aiding indigestion.

Lipid abnormalities can lead to several health problems, including heart disease, high blood cholesterol levels, and obesity.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that high blood lipid levels are among the top three risk factors for death in the United States. Collectively, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, low HDL ("good") cholesterol, and elevated lipoprotein(a) can help predict your chances of developing heart disease—"the number one killer in the world," according to the CDC.

As with carbohydrates and proteins, your body's cells require lipids for energy production and storing excess energy as fat. However, unlike most other nutrients, fats generally are not used directly by cells to create energy but instead serve only as a reserve or backup fuel source. Fat also serves as a building block for cellular membranes, hormones, and vitamin D and is involved in the body's inflammatory response.

How do you get rid of excess lipids in your system?

Eat less fat (especially of the saturated kind)

If you want to reduce the excess of lipids in your body, you must eat less fat.

Saturated fats are bad for health. Avoid foods containing many saturated fats like pork, beef, cheese, and other dairy products.

Instead of fried food, eat more fresh food. In general, avoid refined carbohydrates like white bread and rice, which have little nutritional value but increase your cholesterol levels.

If you are worried about raising your cholesterol levels, you can try the following methods:

Take supplements like psyllium which helps eliminate excess fat from your system and lowers cholesterol levels. You can also try red yeast rice, which has the properties of lowering bad cholesterol while at the same time helping.

Exercise regularly

Participate in activities that will make you sweat. The more you sweat, the better it is for your body.

Train your abs once a week by doing crunches or any other ab workout. This is to ensure that there will be no more fats stored in your tummy area.

You can also try taking vitamin E, which lowers cholesterol levels and evening primrose oil, improving your blood circulation.

Exercise is also the best way to lose weight and reduce excess lipids. In fact, it is also the recommended therapy for heart diseases and high cholesterol levels. Try running or parkour if you are looking for a fun activity.

Lose weight if you weigh too much

If you need to lose weight, you have to eat fewer calories and more of the right kinds of food. You also have to reduce your sugar and fat intake.

If you are overweight, you can try doing intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is a great way to lose weight fast. In this kind of diet, you do not eat for either 14 or 18 hours in a day but instead, eat at regular intervals during the other hours.  This is a great way to significantly reduce your food intake and lose weight in no time at all.

If you are overweight, eat several small meals rather than three large ones during the day. This will keep your stomach from feeling bloated and uncomfortable after eating too much. If your stomach feels full after eating 3 big meals, you should try eating 4 or 5 smaller ones.

You can also plan your meals around low-calorie foods like fruits and vegetables to keep your caloric intake down and reduce the amount of fat in your system.


Lipids are a diverse class of molecules that can vary in length and chemical composition. Lipids serve many essential functions, including structural components of cell membranes or the protective outer layer around cells called ichthyosis. In addition to these crucial cellular roles, lipids provide energy storage for your body along with insulation from heat and cold.

Lipids are a type of fat found in the human body. They can be categorized as either simple or complex lipids and include fats such as cholesterol, triglycerides, and phospholipids.

Lipid metabolism is an important process that many people don't understand. It's responsible for synthesizing hormones and bile acids, which play key roles in digestion and elimination. If you want to learn more about this topic, check out our latest blog post!

Medically reviewed and approved by Nataniel Josue Alvarez M.D.