Polysaccharides are polymers consisting of ten to thousands of monosaccharides. Starch is the best-known polysaccharide in food: 80 to 90% of polysaccharides that we consume is in the form of starch.

Starch (α-glucans) consists of branched and unbranched glucose chains: amylopectin and amylose respectively. Starch is made up primarily of amylopectin and to a lesser degree of amylose. Starch and starch degradation products that are not absorbed in the small intestine of healthy people are called ‘resistant starch’.

In summary

  • Like all other digestible carbohydrates and proteins, starch delivers 4 kcal per gram.
  • It is found in such foods as pasta, rice, bread and potatoes.
  • The Dutch National Food Consumption Survey, conducted by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (2012-2016), shows that the Dutch obtain an average of 45% of their energy intake from carbohydrates, of which approximately 24% from starch (polysaccharides). This translates into 127 grams of starch per day. On average, men have a higher intake than women.
  • The body breaks down starch into individual glucose molecules and obtains energy from these.
  • Babies may not consume starch until around four months of age because they are unable to digest it properly.
  • When heated (>120 °C), the chemical acrylamide can form in starchy products. A high intake of acrylamide can be potentially harmful to health. That is why it is recommended not to fry potato products until they are too brown.
  • Consumption of carbohydrates in the Netherlands

    Consumption of carbohydrates in the Netherlands

    Results from the sixth Dutch Food Consumption Survey 2019-2021.
    Bestandstype: pdf
  • Carbohydrates in dietary guidelines

    Carbohydrates in dietary guidelines

    In this factsheet the dietary recommendations for carbohydrates are discussed.
    Bestandstype: pdf