Polysaccharides Examples


Polysaccharides are long chains of monosaccharides linked by glycosidic bonds. Three important polysaccharides, starch, glycogen, and cellulose, are composed of glucose. Starch and glycogen serve as short-term energy stores in plants and animals, respectively. They range in structure from linear to highly branched. Polysaccharides are complex carbohydrates composed of ten or up to several thousand monosaccharides arranged in chains. Think of these as simple sugars linked by glycosidic bonds. When it comes to nutrition, polysaccharides play a huge role in the body. Polysaccharides have two roles: some, like starch or glycogen, help store the energy we gain from consuming food. Others help with cell structure. The most common monosaccharides in polysaccharides are glucose, fructose, galactose and mannose.

Polysaccharides are critical when it comes to proper nutrition because they comprise the complex carbohydrates that, for many, serve as the body's primary energy source. Every bodily function relies on carbohydrates for energy. But, while the body can produce some energy, it's certainly not enough to sustain itself.

Polysaccharides can help a person overcome fatigue, support healthy blood pressure and blood sugar, encourage a positive mood, soothe irritation, support immune function, promote cardiovascular health, and even increase libido.

Digestible polysaccharides, such as starch, are digested (broken down) in the mouth and small intestine in several steps that eventually yield glucose, which is absorbed. They are a source of energy; they provide about 4 Calories per gram. They also provide carbon atoms for the synthesis of fats, proteins and other substances in your body.

Non-digestible polysaccharides or dietary fiber, such as cellulose, promote the passage of food through the gut and thus help maintain bowel regularity. None of the polysaccharides are nutrients essential you do not need to consume them in order to be healthy.

Examples of Polysaccharides:

1. Starch

An energy source from glucose units that are widely obtained from plants. Many starches are cereal grains, bread, pasta, pastries, cookies, potatoes, tapioca, wheat, oats, rye, barely, rice and yams to name a few. They are a polysaccharide energy source when digested in the body.

2. Cellulose

A structural polysaccharide in plants that when consumed, it acts as a dietary fiber. Cellulose is the most abundant organic molecule on earth, since it is the main component of plant cell walls. Wood, paper, and cotton are the most common forms of cellulose.

3. Glycogen

It acts more like a long-term storage option. Glycogen is mainly produced by the liver and muscles, but it can also be made during a process called glycogenesis, which occurs in both the brain and stomach. A small amount of glycogen is in shellfish and animal liver.

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