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Carbohydrate Definition
What Are Carbohydrates?

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, cellulose and gums. Carbohydrates (hydrates of carbon) are the most important of the four major classes of biomolecules, which also include proteins, lipids and nucleic acids. They fill numerous roles in living things, such as the storage and transport of energy (starch, glycogen) and structural components (cellulose in plants, chitin in animals). Additionally, carbohydrates and their derivatives play major roles in the working process of the immune system, fertilization, pathogenesis, blood clotting, and development. Chemically, carbohydrates are simple organic compounds that are aldehydes or ketones with many hydroxyl groups added, usually one on each carbon atom that is not part of the aldehyde or ketone functional group. The basic carbohydrate units are called monosaccharides, such as glucose, galactose, and fructose.

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