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Chemistry LibreTexts

16: Carbohydrates

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  • Glucose is one of the carbohydrates you will learn about in this chapter as we begin the study of biochemistry—the chemistry of molecules found in living organisms. Later we will study the other three major types of macromolecules found in living organisms: lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids.

    • 16.0: Prelude to Carbohydrates
      People with diabetes are impaired in their ability to metabolize glucose, a sugar needed by the body for energy; as a result, excessive quantities of glucose accumulate in the blood and the urine. The characteristic symptoms of diabetes are weight loss, constant hunger, extreme thirst, and frequent urination (the kidneys excrete large amounts of water in an attempt to remove the excess sugar from the blood).
    • 16.1: Carbohydrates
      Carbohydrates are an important group of biological molecules that includes sugars and starches. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants use energy from sunlight to synthesize carbohydrates. A monosaccharide is the simplest carbohydrate and cannot be hydrolyzed to produce a smaller carbohydrate molecule. Disaccharides contain two monosaccharide units, and polysaccharides contain many monosaccharide units.
    • 16.2: Classes of Monosaccharides
      Monosaccharides can be classified by the number of carbon atoms in the structure and/or the type of carbonyl group they contain (aldose or ketose). Most monosaccharides contain at least one chiral carbon and can form stereoisomers. Enantiomers are a specific type of stereoisomers that are mirror images of each other.
    • 16.3: Important Hexoses
      Three abundant hexoses in living organisms are the aldohexoses D-glucose and D-galactose and the ketohexose D-fructose.
    • 16.4: Cyclic Structures of Monosaccharides
      Monosaccharides that contain five or more carbons atoms form cyclic structures in aqueous solution. Two cyclic stereoisomers can form from each straight-chain monosaccharide; these are known as anomers. In an aqueous solution, an equilibrium mixture forms between the two anomers and the straight-chain structure of a monosaccharide in a process known as mutarotation.
    • 16.5: Properties of Monosaccharides
      Monosaccharides are crystalline solids at room temperature and quite soluble in water.​​​​​​​ Monosaccharides are reducing sugars; they reduce mild oxidizing agents, such as Tollens’ or Benedict’s reagents.
    • 16.6: Disaccharides
      Maltose is composed of two molecules of glucose joined by an α-1,4-glycosidic linkage. It is a reducing sugar that is found in sprouting grain. Lactose is composed of a molecule of galactose joined to a molecule of glucose by a β-1,4-glycosidic linkage. It is a reducing sugar that is found in milk. Sucrose is composed of a molecule of glucose joined to a molecule of fructose by an α-1,β-2-glycosidic linkage. It is a nonreducing sugar that is found in sugar cane and sugar beets.
    • 16.7: Polysaccharides
      Starch is a storage form of energy in plants. It contains two polymers composed of glucose units: amylose (linear) and amylopectin (branched). Glycogen is a storage form of energy in animals. It is a branched polymer composed of glucose units. It is more highly branched than amylopectin. Cellulose is a structural polymer of glucose units found in plants. It is a linear polymer with the glucose units linked through β-1,4-glycosidic bonds.
    • 16.S: Carbohydrates (Summary)
      To ensure that you understand the material in this chapter, you should review the meanings of the bold terms in the following summary and ask yourself how they relate to the topics in the chapter.