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Food Carbohydrate Chemistry

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Food Carbohydrate Chemistry, 9780813826653 (0813826659), John Wiley & Sons, 2012
Carbohydrates are major components of foods, accounting for more than 90% of the dry matter of fruits and vegetables and providing for 70-80% of human caloric intake worldwide (BeMiller and Huber 2008). Thus, from a quantitative perspective alone, carbohydrates warrant the attention of food chemists. From the standpoint of food quality carbo- hydrates are multifunctional. Sugars are the major source, as well as our reference point, for sweetness. Although carbohydrates are described as being odorless, the volatile reaction products from the Maillard reaction, Strecker degradation, and carmelization reactions can provide desirable, undesirable, or neutral flavor compounds. And, although carbohydrates are colorless, sugars participate in Maillard and carmelization reactions to produce desirable and undesirable brown colors. Cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin, and starch are the structural components of plants that are largely responsible for the textural characteristics of fruits and vegetables. Starch and starch derivatives and various hydrocolloids isolated from plants, seaweed, and microbial sources are used as thickeners, gelling agents, bodying agents, and stabilizers in foods. When it comes to nutrition, a sizable portion of the lay public view carbohydrates in a bad light. Car- bohydrates are often blamed for health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and dental caries. It should be realized that carbohydrates are, or should be, the principal source of energy in our diet. After all, we evolved as a species to efficiently use carbohydrates that can be converted to glucose for our body's fuel. Good nutrition is based on the consumption of the appropriate carbohydrates in the right amounts in balance with other nutrients. It is widely accepted that consumption of various forms of com- plex carbohydrate can reduce the risk of diabetes, coronary heart disease, diverticulitus, and colon cancer. For peak athletic performance, the advice of professional nutritionists will emphasize consumption of the appropri- ate carbohydrates, in the appropriate amounts, at the appropriate time. Although the percentage of carbohydrates contributing to caloric intake in the United States is highly variable, the average is considerably less than 70%. Dietary recommendations call for increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and a greater proportion of complex carbohydrate (Walker and Reamy 2009; WHO 2010).
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