Asked Jun 4, 2019

Describe the structures, functions and properties of carbohydrates (including monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides). Give specific examples of biologically important carbohydrates.


Expert Answer

Step 1

Carbohydrates, also termed as saccharides, are the organic compounds which are composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. Their stoichiometric formula is (CH2O) n. They are an important part of the human diet and are included in grains, fruits, and vegetables. The main motive of carbohydrates is to provide energy to the body, by the break down of glucose.

Step 2

Structures of carbohydrates:

Based on the structures, carbohydrates are divided into three categories:

  1. Monosaccharides: They are simple carbohydrates, and the most common monosaccharide is glucose. There are three – seven carbon atoms in monosaccharides. If there is an aldehydic group in sugar, then it is termed as aldose, while the sugar-containing ketonic group is termed as a ketose. Moreover, based on the number of carbon atoms, they are named differently. For example, if a sugar contains 5 carbon atoms, then it is termed as pentose. Further, six carbon atoms sugar is termed as hexose. Monosaccharides can be ring-shaped or linear shaped.
  2. Disaccharides: When two monosaccharides undergo a dehydration reaction, then the disaccharides are formed. In this, two monosaccharide units are joined together by the covalent bond, termed as glycosidic bond. There are two types of glycosidic bonds, alpha and beta bonds. Sucrose is a disaccharide which is formed by the dehydration between glucose and a fructose monosaccharide.
  3. Polysaccharide: When n number of monosaccharides are joined together by the glycosidic bond, then polysaccharides are formed. The polysaccharide chain can be branched (like amylopectin) and straight-chain (like amylose). The common polysaccharides are starch, cellulose, and glycogen.
Step 3

Functions of carbohydrates:

  1. The most basic function of carbohydrate is to provide energy to the body, by break down of glucose and regulate the blood glucose level.
  2. It prevents the breakdown of proteins for the energy requirements.
  3. It also helps in the metabolism of fats. If there is enough energy in the body, then the exces...

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