What are carbohydrate monomers?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “what are carbohydrate monomers?” and discuss what are the sources of carbohydrate monomers, and which carbs are the ‘healthiest’?

What are carbohydrate monomers?

Carbohydrate monomers are the building blocks of carbohydrates. They are the primary unit of structure in carbohydrates, and together they form chains or rings that can hold water. 

Carbohydrates are composed of either two or three monosaccharides bound to each other via a glycosidic bond. The monosaccharides are simple sugars.

The following are some of the common carbohydrates monomers: 


Glucose is a monosaccharide and one of the most important carbohydrates in the human diet. This simple sugar is the primary source of energy for cells.

In addition to being an important energy source, glucose also plays an important role in regulating blood sugar levels.

When blood glucose levels become too high or too low, we experience symptoms such as bloating (gastrointestinal upset), fatigue, increased hunger and thirst, and irritability. Therefore, it’s important for us to keep track of our daily intake of carbohydrates so that we can avoid these symptoms at the first signs of fatigue or hunger.

There are two main types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates contain just one molecule and it can not be broken down further, while complex carbohydrates contain more than one molecule (2 or more) which upon hydrolysis yield simple sugars (monomers). Simple sugars include glucose.


Fructose is a simple carbohydrate that has been consumed for centuries. It’s found naturally in fruit and vegetables and produced by the metabolism of sucrose. Fructose is a simple sugar like glucose and does not break down upon hydrolysis.


Galactose is a simple monosaccharide that is found in some foods. It can be produced in the body upon lactose breakdown by the enzyme lactase in the small intestine.


Dextrose is a carbohydrate monomer and is present as a source of energy in some food and as a sweetener and preservative in beverages. It is commonly used as an ingredient in sugar-sweetened beverages and foods, such as soft drinks and baked goods. 


Xylose is an important sugar for human beings because it provides a source of energy for our bodies when we consume it through food products such as fruits and vegetables or by cereals that contain xylose molecules.


Ribose as a carbohydrate monomers

Ribose is a monosaccharide that is found in all living organisms. It is the main component of the nucleic acids DNA and RNA. 

In biology, ribose is a five-carbon sugar. Ribose occurs in nature in two forms: D-ribose and L-ribose.


Mannose is a carbohydrate monomer that is used as a carbohydrate in some foods, such as cranberries. 

Mannose has been studied for its benefits. It can be used to treat genetic and acquired diseases in humans. 

What are the sources of carbohydrate monomers?

The sources of carbohydrate monomers are as follows:

Carbohydrate monomersFood source of the carbohydrate monomer
GlucoseCereals, rice, oats, bread, fruits, noodles, honey, table sugar
FructoseArtichokes, asparagus, sugar cane, dates, figs
GalactoseMushrooms, peanuts, milk
DextroseBacon, bologna, candies, energy drinks, canned peas, food colorings
XyloseSweeteners in beverages
RiboseLamb liver, milk, salmon, beef, yogurt, mushrooms, eggs, egss, spinach
MannoseCranberries, aloevera, fenugreek seeds

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are a class of macronutrients that include sugars, starches, and fiber. They provide energy for the body and can be found in the form of simple sugars like glucose or fructose, or complex carbohydrates like starch.

What are whole vs refined carbs?

Whole grains are unprocessed, intact, and naturally occurring in the whole seed of wheat, rice, corn, or quinoa. Refined carbohydrates are broken down into their individual components and are found in refined foods such as bread, cereals, and pasta.

Which carbs are the ‘healthiest’?

The ‘healthiest’ carbs are the ones that are low on the glycemic index and high in fiber. Carbs with a high glycemic index will raise your blood sugar more quickly than those with a low glycemic index. Fiber helps you feel full longer and can help lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain.


In this brief guide, we have addressed the question, “what are carbohydrate monomers?” and discussed other questions related to the subject, such as what are the sources of carbohydrate monomers, and which carbs are the ‘healthiest’?







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