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Any of an important class of naturally occurring lipids, esters in which three molecules of fatty acids are linked to glycerol. The three fatty acids may be all the same kind or different kinds. The types of triglycerides in animals vary with the species and the fats in their food. In mammals they are stored in adipose tissue until needed and then broken down to the glycerol and fatty acids. Many vegetable triglycerides (oils) are liquid at room temperature, unlike those of animals, and tend to contain a greater variety of fatty acids. In alkali, triglycerides break down to form glycerol and three molecules of soap (saponification).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on triglyceride, visit Britannica.com.