Almost all organisms use carbohydrates as sources of energy. In addition, some carbohydrates serve as structural materials. Carbohydrates are molecules composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen; the ratio of hydrogen atoms to oxygen atoms is 2:1.
Simple carbohydrates, commonly referred to as sugars, can be monosaccharides if they are composed of single molecules, or disaccharides if they are composed of two molecules. The most important monosaccharide is glucose, a carbohydrate with the molecular formula C6H12O6. Glucose is the basic form of fuel in living things. It is soluble and is transported by body fluids to all cells, where it is metabolized to release its energy. Glucose is the starting material for cellular respiration, and it is the main product of photosynthesis (see Chapters 5 and 6).
Three important disaccharides are also found in living things: maltose, sucrose, and lactose. Maltose is a combination of two glucose units cova-lently linked. The table sugar sucrose is formed by linking glucose to another monosaccharide called fructose. (Figure 2-2 shows that in the synthesis of sucrose, a water molecule is produced. The process is therefore called a dehydration. The reversal of the process is hydrolysis, a process in which the molecule is split and the elements of water are added.) Lactose is composed of glucose and galactose units.
Figure 2-2 Glucose and fructose molecules combine to form the disac-charide sucrose.
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Complex carbohydrates are known as polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are formed by linking innumerable monosaccharides. Among the most
12 CliffsQuickReview Biology important polysaccharides are the starches, which are composed of hundreds or thousands of glucose units linked to one another. Starches serve as a storage form for carbohydrates. Much of the world's human population satisfies its energy needs with the starches of rice, wheat, corn, and potatoes.
Two other important polysaccharides are glycogen and cellulose. Glycogen is also composed of thousands of glucose units, but the units are bonded in a different pattern than in starches. Glycogen is the form in which glucose is stored in the human liver. Cellulose is used primarily as a structural carbohydrate. It is also composed of glucose units, but the units cannot be released from one another except by a few species of organisms. Wood is composed chiefly of cellulose, as are plant cell walls. Cotton fabric and paper are commercial cellulose products.
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WHAT IT IS A three-phase plan that has been likened to the low-carbohydrate Atkins program because during the first two weeks, South Beach eliminates most carbs, including bread, pasta, potatoes, fruit and most dairy products. In PHASE 2, healthy carbs, including most fruits, whole grains and dairy products are gradually reintroduced, but processed carbs such as bagels, cookies, cornflakes, regular pasta and rice cakes remain on the list of foods to avoid or eat rarely.