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a compound of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, the latter two usually in the proportions of water (CH2O)n. They are classified into mono-, di-, tri-, poly-, and heterosaccharides. Carbohydrates in food are an important and immediate source of energy for the body; 1 g of carbohydrate yields 4 calories. They are present, at least in small quantities, in most foods, but the chief sources are the sugars and starches. Food substances that are almost pure sugar include granulated sugar, maple sugar, honey, and molasses. The monosaccharides (simple sugars) include glucose and fructose. galactose, another simple sugar, is produced by the digestion or hydrolysis of lactose. The disaccharides (double sugars) include sucrose (white sugar, found in sugar cane or sugar beets), maltose, and lactose. All ripe fruits and many vegetables contain natural sugars. The starches are present in such foods as rice, wheat, and potatoes. Carbohydrates may be stored in the body as glycogen for future use. If they are eaten in excessive amounts, however, the body changes them into fats and stores them in that form.


1. Any of a group of organic compounds, including sugars, starches, celluloses, and gums, that contain only carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen and that originate chiefly as products of photosynthesis. Carbohydrates serve as a major energy source for living things.
2. A food, such as bread, rice, or potatoes, that is composed largely of these substances.


Aldehyde or ketone derivatives of a polyhydric—especially pentahydric and hexahydric—alcohol. The name derives from ratio of hydrogen and oxygen-Cn(H2O)n; the major carbohydrates are starches, sugars, celluloses and gums, which are classified into monosaccharides (e.g., glucose), disaccharides (e.g., sucrose), trisaccharides (e.g., raffinose) and polysaccharides (e.g., starch, cellulose and glycogen).

An abundant organic compound, it is one of the three main classes of foods and a principal source of energy. Ingested carbohydrates are sugars and starches, which are metabolised into glucose or assembled into glycogen and stored in the liver and muscle for future use.


Nutrition An abundant organic compound, which is one of the 3 main classes of foods and a principal source of energy; ingested carbohydrates are sugars and starches, which are metabolized into glucose, or assembled into glycogen, and stored in the liver and muscle for future use. See Complex. Cf Fats, Protein.


Organic compound of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen; sugars are simple carbohydrates, starches are complex carbohydrates.
Carbohydrateclick for a larger image
Fig. 89 Carbohydrate . The types of carbohydrate.


a family of organic molecules (hydrates of carbon) with the general formula (CH2 O)x, ranging from simple sugars such as glucose and fructose to complex molecules such as starch and cellulose. All complex carbohydrates are built up from simple units called MONOSACCHARIDES which cannot be hydrolysed to a simpler structure.

The types of carbohydrate are described in detail under their own heading, but are summarized in Fig. 89.

Patient discussion about carbohydrate

Q. What are carbohydrates and where they are found and what is their nutritional value?

A. You got it.

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