Difference Between Animal Fats and Plant Fats

Animal fats vs Plant Fats

Fats, oils and waxes are the general terms describing a structurally diverse bio-macromolecule called ‘lipids’. Lipids are esters of glycerol and fatty acids. One glycerol molecule is esterified with three fatty acid residues to form a triglyceride. Physical, chemical and structural diversity of fats varies with the fatty acid composition in the triglycerides. Lipids with saturated fatty acids (saturated fat) tend to be solid at room temperature (25oC) and hence we generally call it as ‘fat’. On the other hand, lipids with unsaturated fatty acids (unsaturated fat) tend to be liquid at room temperature and thus they are called ‘oils’.

Lipids are present in all living organisms including Archaebacteria. They are very abundant in plants and animals. Fats of animal origin are called as ‘animal fat’ and those of plants are called ‘plant fats’. In this post we will discuss about what are the difference between animal fats and plant fats.

Similarities between animal fats and plant fats

Ø  Both animal and plant fats are triglycerides (one glycerol esterified with three fatty acid residues)

Ø  Both are food reserve of the cell

Ø  Unsaturated and saturated fats occurs in both plants and animals

Ø  Majority of the physical and chemical characters of animal and plant fats are same

Difference between Animal fats and plant fats

Animal fats (Fats)

1. Example for animal fat: Butter fat, Beef fat

2. Animals fats are relatively rich in saturated fatty acids

3. Animals fats due to their saturation, tend to stay solid at room temperature, hence commonly known as ‘fats’

4. Iodine number of animal fats will be relatively less (iodine number denote the degree of un-saturation in fatty acids)

5. Animal fats have relatively higher value of Reichert-Meissl number (Reichert-Meissl number indicate how much volatile fatty acid can be extracted from a fat through saponification)

6. Oxidative rancidity is observed more frequently in animal fats

7. Animal fats are stored in liver, beneath the skin etc.

8. Animals have specialized cells for storing fat reserve called adipocytes

Plant fats or Vegetable fats (Oils)

1. Example for plant fat: Coconut oil, Olive oil, Sunflower oil

2. Plant fats are comparatively rich in unsaturated fatty acids

3. Plant fats due to their high un-saturation, tend to stay liquid at room temperature, hence commonly known as ‘oils’

4. Iodine number of plant fats will be more when compared to animal fats

5. Plant fats have relatively lower Reichert-meissl number

6. Oxidative rancidity is relatively less in plant fats

7. Plant fats are stored in fruits and seeds

8. Plants do not have adipocytes for storing fats, fats are sored as granules (oil droplets) in the cell cells of endosperm of seeds or other cells

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