Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Turning starches into sugars

Salivary enzymes (like amylases) don’t lay a finger on proteins and leave fats pretty much alone, but they do begin to digest complex carbohydrates, breaking the long, chainlike molecules of starches into individual units of sugars; this simple experiment enables you to taste firsthand the effects of amylases on carbohydrates.
  1. Put a small piece of plain, unsalted cracker on your tongue. No cheese, no chopped liver — just the cracker, please.
  2. Close your mouth and let the cracker sit on your tongue for a few minutes. Do you taste a sudden, slight sweetness? That’s the salivary enzymes breaking a long, complex starch molecule into its component parts (sugars).
  3. 3Okay, you can swallow now. The rest of the digestion of the starch takes place farther down, in your small intestine.

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