What are fatty acids?

Emilia Klapp
Nutrition & Dietetics
Your body uses two fuels: glucose and fatty acids. Fatty acids differ from glucose in that they provide a fuel source used only during longer periods of fasting. These acids come from the fat you eat and are stored in your fat cells as triglycerides (a scientific name for fat).
Fatty acids are chains of carbon atoms held together by either single or double chemical bonds. The chemical bonds determine whether the fatty acid is considered saturated or unsaturated. Fatty acids serve as sources of energy for various organs and muscles in the body. They are typically joined together in groups of three; this molecule is called a triglyceride.

Continue Learning about Fats


At 9 calories per gram, fats can add up quickly in your diet, yet experts recommend that you get only 7% of your calorie intake from fat. Fats also affect your cholesterol, and there are both good and bad fats. The best kind of fa...

ts are called unsaturated fats, and can be found in oils like olive and canola oils, nuts and seeds. These fats can help your body get rid of cholesterol. Saturated fats often have had hydrogen added to them to make them more solid. Other saturated fats are found in cream, butter and meats. They can raise your blood cholesterol. Its wise to learn which is which and check nutrition labels to make proper choices.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.