Starch is important because we eat it! Starch is found
in potatoes, and in grains such as corn and wheat. Starch is
made up of glucose repeat units.
In your body, special proteins called enzymes
(which are also polymers, by the way) break starch down into glucose, so
your body can burn it for energy. If you're eating a healthy diet, you
get most of your energy from starch in this way.
Because it is made of
sugar molecules it is called a polysaccharide. It is very similar
to cellulose. To see just how the two are
different, click here.
Starch has a few other uses other than food. It's used in
pressing clothes to keep them from wrinkling. It's also used to make a
foam packing. Starch is biodegradable, so starch foam packing is an
environmentally-friendly alternative to styrofoam
packing. But be careful! Entropy, the black labrador
retriever on the right, likes to eat starch packing, so don't turn your
back on her if you've got a box of it around!
Polymer Science Learning Center
Department of Polymer Science
The University of Southern Mississippi