Parks, John S. Department of Pathology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
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A simple fat or lipid consisting of three fatty acyl chains esterified to a glycerol backbone. The fatty acyl chains of triglycerides (triacylglycerols) may be similar or different in carbon chain length and in the number of double bonds. The fatty acyl chains determine the physical properties of the triglycerides. For example, triglyceride molecules that contain fatty acyl chains that are polyunsaturated (that is, with two or more double bonds) have a lower melting temperature than triglyceride molecules that have more saturated (that is, no double bonds) fatty acyl chains. The number of double bonds, that is, the degree of polyunsaturation, of the fatty acyl chains determines whether triglycerides are liquids at room temperature, such as vegetable oils (corn, canola, safflower, and so forth), or solids (that is, butter, lard, beef tallow, and others). See also: Lipid
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