Author: John Lui

Understand the basic structures and types of carbohydrates

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Introduction to Psychology

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Carbohydrates are the most common type of organic compound. A carbohydrate is an organic compound such as sugar or starch, and is used to store energy. Like most organic compounds, carbohydrates are built of small, repeating units that form bonds with each other to make a larger molecule. In the case of carbohydrates, the small repeating units are called monosaccharides. Carbohydrates contain only carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

Monosacharides and Disacharides

A monosaccharide is a simple sugar such as fructose or glucose. Fructose is found in fruits, whereas glucose generally results from the digestion of other carbohydrates. Glucose (C 6 H 12 O 6 ) is used for energy by the cells of most organisms, and is a product of photosynthesis.  A disacharide is a carbohydrate made of two simple sugars.  An example of a disacharide is table sugar.  This molecule is made of one glucose and fructose sugar molecule combined together.


A polysaccharide is a complex carbohydrate that forms when simple sugars bind together in a chain. Polysaccharides may contain just a few simple sugars or thousands of them. Complex carbohydrates have two main functions: storing energy and forming structures of living things. 

Source: CK12

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