Cellular and Molecular Biology

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Fatty Acid Structure: Saturation


All fatty acids have carboxyl chemical groups with long hydrocarbon tails. These tails consist of a chain of carbon molecules covalently bonded to hydrogen molecules. These chains have structural differences, one of which is whether or not the chain is saturated or unsaturated.

Which answer BEST describes the difference between saturated and unsaturated fatty acids?


A saturated fatty acid tail is full of double bonds while an unsaturated fatty acid tail lacks double bonds.


A saturated fatty acid has the maximum amount of hydrogens bonded to each carbon in its hydrocarbon chain, whereas an unsaturated fatty acid contains one or more carbons that lack some hydrogens and are double or triple bonded to other carbons in the chain.


The tail of a saturated fat has an irregular, “kinked” structure, while an unsaturated fat has a more straight structure.


Saturated fatty acid tails are hydrophilic, unsaturated fatty acid tails are hydrophobic.