What Are Saturated and Unsaturated Fatty Acids

Fatty acids can differ in their degree of saturation. Saturation refers to whether all of the carbon atoms between the end carbons are linked to two atoms of hydrogen. If this is the case, then the carbons are saturated with hydrogen and that particular fatty acid would be called a saturated fatty acid (SFA) (Figure 5.3). However, if, at one or more points, adjacent carbon atoms are bonded to only a single hydrogen atom each, the fatty acid would then be an unsaturated fatty acid (see Figure 5.3).

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

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H

H

H

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P-

-P-

-P-

-P-

-P-

-P-

-P-

-P-

-P-

-P-

-P-

-P-

c

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

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H

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H I

a-carbon co-carbon, a-carbon co-carbon,

(a) 16:0 Saturated fatty acid (palmitic acid)

f, HHHHHH HHHH HHHHHHH

c—c—c—c—c—c—c—c—c=c—c—c—c—c—c—c—r.-r. -

j i i i i i i i i"i ;;;;,,,, HO HHHHHHH HHHHHHHH

Double bond

(b) 18:1 ca-9 Monounsaturated fatty acid (oleic acid)

O HHHHHH HHHH HHHHHHH

H0 HHHHHHH |J H |J HHHHH

Double bonds (c) 18:2 co-6 Polyunsaturated fatty acid (linoleic acid)

n HHHHHH HHH HHHHHHHH

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