Table 1—

Carbohydrate classification and terminology

Major dietary carbohydrate classes based on degree of polymerization and subgroupsComponentsU.S. food labeling designation
Sugars* (1–2 molecules)
 MonosaccharidesGlucose, galactose, fructoseSugars
 DisaccharidesSucrose, lactoseSugars
 Polyols (sugar alcohols)Sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, isomalt, malitol, lactitol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysatesSugar alcohol
Oligosaccharides (3–9 molecules)
 Malto-oligosaccharidesMaltodextrinsOther carbohydrate
 Other oligosaccharidesRaffinose, stachyose, fructo-oligosaccharidesOther carbohydrate
Polysaccharides (>9 molecules)
 Starch*Amylose, amylopectin, modified starchesOther carbohydrate
 Fiber* (non-starch polysaccharides)Cellulose, hemicellulose, pectins, hydrocolloidsDietary fiber
  • All U.S. food labeling designations are in total grams of carbohydrate.

  • *

    * Preferred terminology. Adapted from World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Carbohydrates in Human Nutrition. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 1998.