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Complex Carbohydrate

Fermented by bacteria

Flatulence Fuel


Raffinose pentahydrate; beta-DFructofuranosyl- O-alpha-D-galactopyranosyl-(1->6)-alpha- D-glucopyranoside


Molecular Weight: 594.53 g/mole
Boiling Point: Decomposes. (118°C or 244.4°F)
Melting Point: 80°C (176°F)
Specific Gravity: 1.465 (Water = 1)


It is not the nasal appendage of the childrens' singer, Raffi, but could be the olfactory offender in some (usually the sulfurous part of the gas). Raffinose is a polymer under the classification of oligosaccharides (the oligo meaning 'few' {and rhymes with phew}). The other 'almost sugars' in this arena is stachyose (a tetrasaccharide) and  verbascose (pentasaccharide). They have beta glycosidic bonds, like the milk sugar, lactose (galactose combined with glucose...why one needs lactase), instead of alpha (like sucrose -table sugar). The flexibility of the molecular compound structure of these sugars, compared to raffinose, allows  them to have absorbency.

Call Any Vegetable, call it by name.
You've got to call one today, when you get off the train.
Call any vegetable, and the chances are good,
The vegetable will respond to you.
  --Frank Zappa
Their importance for consideration in human nutrition involves the fact that they do not digest in either the stomach or small intestine. It is also why Tofu fermented from Soybeans is more digestible. These carbohydrates, like all of them made from that favorite star, our sun, by photosynthesis, are in most every plant, for us: vegetable, five to eight percent --with varying amounts.  And, if you have eaten beans, or even broccoli, you know what happens in the large intestine, a place in which, unlike cows, we lack the digestion enzyme.  Instead it is where bacteria, a.k.a. microflora, break it down and form gas, or flatus, (not always Methane, but Carbon Dioxide and Hydrogen). They have the other savory or unsavory benefit, depending how you look at it, of causing the fecal bulking effect. As mentioned in another link, Beano (TM) is the enzyme alpha-galactosidase that supposedly can remedy that physical and social malady. Its success is by enacting the hydrolysis of oligosaccharides into easily absorbed constituent monomers.
You'll have to have them all pulled out after the Savoy Truffle --The Beatles
Scientists, especially in Japan, Korea, and Europe, are tweaking these oligosaccharides, with raffinose a main player, with Leuconostoc mesenteroides . They are part of a effort to create anti-caries enzymes because of Streptococcus mutans, as well as making a prebiotic and promoting the growth of friendly gut-bacteria like from the bacteria-derived extra-cellular polysaccharide known as insoluble glucan, or mutan (that dentists tell you is plaque --turns out to be a sugar construct). Some are trying to make other sugars from oligosaccharides with Lactobacillus gasseri, but the recombinant enzymes only convert raffinose into fructan and fructo-oligosaccharides. They use transfructosylation by Aspergillus niger also to synthesize fructose. This is an exciting but new area, as we see from this statement in an article in Microbiology<:/em>
This limited knowledge of inulosucrase enzymes and lack of 3D structures hamper our efforts to understand the differences between inulo- and levansucrases.

But, with continued research they might replace fluoride with something less toxic. It can be bought in crystalline form, and used in cooking, and some hope it will sweeten without calories but will not break down. Chinese and Japanese have industrially isolated it from beans and soy. You want some?  Here are the vendors:

Finetech Industry FT-512-69-6
Fluorochem 249701, 078860
R&D Chemicals 4257
Tokyo Chemical Industry, Ltd. R0002


The internal link here on oligosaccharides, groups them with polysaccharides (poly = many, not a parrot) mentions that disaccharides (two sugars) are also in that classification.  disaccharides, made up of pairs of single molecules of monosaccharides, are simple carbohydrates. This becomes a problem seeing that any less than ten are not polysaccharides, but oligosaccharides. It is also not accurate because any more than two are considered complex carbohydrates. (Whereas the monosaccharides like fructose and glucose are simple carbohydrates.) To be a polysaccharide it has to be a greater number than ten of carbohydrate compounds.  

There were other sources with this subtle error, also. (I hope I have not made any, if so please let me know.)

Raf"fi*nose` (?), n. [F. raffiner to refine.] Chem.

A colorless crystalline slightly sweet substance obtained from the molasses of the sugar beet.


© Webster 1913.

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