Classification of carbohydrates

The word ‘carbohydrate’ was coined more than 100 years ago to disrobe a large group of compounds of the general formula Cn(H2O)n. Sugars, starches and fiber are the main forms in which carbohydrates occurs in food.

Carbohydrates can be classified based on their chemical structure and/or based on their physiological effects.  The classification of carbohydrate is a complicated subject due to in part to the numerous classification schemes or systems used in the past.

There are three main groups, monosaccharide, or simple sugars; oligosaccharides, of which the most prevalent in nature are the disaccharides; and polysaccharides the most complex of the carbohydrates.

All carbohydrates must be reduced to simple sugars (monosaccharides in the intestine before they can be absorbed into the bloodstream).

The most basic or simple form of carbohydrate is the monosaccharide. Typical monosaccharide are of the empirical formula (CH2O)n where n is a value between 3 and 9. The basic or archetypal monosaccharide is the six-carbon simple carbohydrate glucose. Glucose, a simple sugar, is the form in which carbohydrates circulate in the bloodstream.

Polysaccharides are large polymers of monosaccharides. Polysaccharides may consist of straight chains or branched chains having hundreds or ten thousands of monosaccharides joined together through glycosidic bonds.
Classification of carbohydrates

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