Fats and oils aren't just lipids, they are also two different substances with individual existence. But, how to determine what is fat and what is oil? It's indeed a difficult task. But, what if you have a thorough understanding of the difference between fats and oils based on characteristics like- melting point, source, physical state, shelf life, density, etc.? Sounds interesting? It's about to get more interesting! In the below article, you will learn about the difference between fat and oil alongside the types of fats and oils. So, read now and do not miss out on any information, important for NEET!
Last updated date: 24th Sep 2023
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Do you understand- What is fats and oils?
It is oftentimes in the race to understand the difficult, we miss out on the basics. And it's not a good start. Therefore, before you can conclude the difference between fat and oil, you must be able to explain fats and oils. For the same, below is a concise explanation of both fats and oils.
Fats are a class of macronutrients consisting of triglycerides, composed of glycerol and fatty acids. They are an important source of energy, insulation, and cushioning for organs.
Oils are liquid fats at room temperature, primarily composed of triglycerides. They are derived from plant or animal sources and serve as cooking mediums, flavor enhancers, and sources of essential fatty acids.
Difference Between Fat and Oil
There is a difference between fats and oils. But, is there only one? Find out the differences along with their categories in the table below:
Solid at room temperature
Liquid at room temperature
Mostly derived from animal sources
Mostly derived from plant sources
Higher melting point (above 20°C)
Lower melting point (below 20°C)
Saturated Fatty Acids
Contain higher amounts of saturated fatty acids
Contain lower amounts of saturated fatty acids
Unsaturated Fatty Acids
Contain lower amounts of unsaturated fatty acids
Contain higher amounts of unsaturated fatty acids
Have more saturated double bonds
Have fewer saturated double bonds
May contribute to high cholesterol levels
May help reduce cholesterol levels
Often associated with animal-based foods
Commonly found in plant-based foods
Provide more energy per unit mass
Provide less energy per unit mass
Tend to have a longer shelf life
Tend to have a shorter shelf life
Used for frying and baking due to stability
Used for dressing and sautéing due to fluidity
Generally denser compared to oils
Generally less dense compared to fats
Butter, lard, tallow
Olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil
Prone to hydrogenation
Less prone to hydrogenation
More resistant to oxidation
More prone to oxidation
Can contain higher amounts of trans fats
Generally contain lower amounts of trans fats
Can contribute to higher cholesterol levels
Slower absorption in the body
Faster absorption in the body
Types of Oils
There are various types of oils present. Among them, a few important ones are briefly talked about below:
Vegetable Oils: These are the oils that are mostly derived from plants. They are usually used for baking, food preparation, and cooking. Do you know some well-known vegetable oil? They are- corn oil, olive oil, soybean oil, and canola oil.
Essential Oils: These are also extractions from plants but are much more concentrated than vegetable oils. Among their many uses, their distinct aromas and therapeutic properties are the most well-known. For example- tea tree oil, lavender oil, eucalyptus oil, and peppermint oil.
Fish Oil: Fish oil as the name suggests is derived from fish. But, the fish used to derive fish oil are fatty. These wishes are mackerel, salmon, and sardines. This oil is very rich in fatty acids like Omega 3 and is particularly known for eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This oil is usually consumed to benefit health like brain function and cardiovascular health.
Coconut Oil: The meat of the coconut is used for the extraction of coconut oil. Therefore this oil is rich in lauric acid and other saturated fats. Baking, cooking, and skin care products are some uses of coconut oil. But being rich in saturated fats it should be consumed in supervised quantities.
Types of Fats
In learning the difference between fat and oil, do not forget their characteristics. One of these is the types of fats. Where to find information on it, you say? Right here, in the points below:
Saturated Fats: When there are fatty acids that lack double bonds between their carbon atoms, they come together to form saturated fats. Their state during room temperature is mostly solid. The common products that consist of saturated fats are animal products like lard, fatty cuts of meat, and butter. If a person consumes saturated fats in excessive quantities they are at high risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Unsaturated Fats: If a chain of fatty acids has double bonds one or more times then it forms unsaturated facts. Their state during room temperature is mostly liquid. These facts have two further classifications, look below!
Monounsaturated Fats: Monounsaturated fats contain fatty acids with a single double bond.
Polyunsaturated Fats: Polyunsaturated fats contain fatty acids with two or more double bonds.
There are various characteristics of fats and oils that make them different. But, where to find all of them, together? In the above article on the difference between fat and oil. Through the article, you'll not only be able to categorically differentiate them but also explain fats and oils through their types. So, read the above article and see whether you're missing back in your preparation on lipids!
1. How to differentiate between fat and vegetable oil?
Fats and vegetable oils differ from one another on various grounds. These include- composition, source, nutrition, state, and cooking properties. In the case of source, vegetable oil is derived from sources like plants. Whereas fats are extracted from both animal as well as plant sources. When it comes to the state, vegetable oil is liquid and fats are solid (at room temperature). Fats have more levels of saturated fats and vegetable oils show higher levels of unsaturated fats. The smoke points of cooking oils (vegetable oils) are lower than that of fats. Fats can withstand very high temperatures.
2. What is the difference between oils, waxes, and fats?
One important difference that plays a huge role in differentiating fats from oils is the state they are in at room temperature. When it comes to waxes, they are usually categorized within cosmetics and are mostly solid, harder, and brittle. Alongside this, they have a much higher melting point in comparison to fats. But, there are also waxes that occur naturally and they present as semi-solids and even liquids. In this manner, oils, waxes, and fats can differ from each other.
3. Why are both fats and oils called lipids?
Any compound that is not soluble in water is called a lipid. Instead, they are characterised by them being soluble in organic solvents. Some organic acids in which the leopards are easily soluble are chloroform and ether. The same property is shown by both fats and oils. Therefore they are both termed lipids. For instance, if you try to dissolve the cooking oil in water, it never will. But, on trying the same with chloroform instead of water, you'll see an opposite reaction.