<biochemistry> Very abundant compounds, usually an aldehyde or ketone derivative of a polyhydric alcohol, particularly of the pentahydric and hexahydric alcohols. They are so named because the hydrogen and oxygen are usually in the proportion to form water with the general formula Cn(H2O)n. The most important carbohydrates are the starches, sugars, celluloses and gums.
They are classified into mono, di, tri, poly and heterosaccharides. The smallest are monosaccharides like glucose whereas polysaccharides such as starch, cellulose or glycogen can be large and indeterminate in length.
(08 Oct 1997)
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