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Difference Between Oligosaccharides and Polysaccharides

Oligosaccharides vs Polysaccharides

In subjects such as chemistry, biochemistry, and nutrition, one can vividly remember that oligosaccharides and polysaccharides are forms of sugar. The prefix attached to these words such as ‘oligo’ means few while ‘poly’ means plentiful.

Oligosaccharides are called such because they contain a small amount of sugar components. They are mostly found in plants particularly small plants. Examples of these plants with a huge amount of oligosaccharides are: onions and its other family, Jerusalem artichoke (a family of the sunflower), asparagus, wheat, legumes, and chicory root.

Oligosaccharides have a minimally sweet taste. They are found to be good for health because undigested oligosaccharides in the stomach help in the production of good bacteria called prebiotics. They aid in decreasing the bacterial flora in the stomach to promote good and better digestion for faster absorption of nutrients in the body.

Polysaccharides, on the other hand, contain a large amount of sugar components. Examples of these are starch and glycogen. They are sweet in nature. Examples of these are: flour, which is the main ingredient for bread, fruits, vegetables, cereals, cornstarch, and nuts among others. Polysaccharides provide energy and can also help in building muscle and aid in the production of liver cells for a healthy liver.

Polysaccharides are said to be complex carbohydrates because of their chemical structure. It is important in the wellness and functioning of humans. Without them there can be fewer sources of energy.


1. Oligosaccharides contain a small amount of sugar while polysaccharides contain plentiful sugar.
2. Oligosaccharides are found mainly in small plants while polysaccharides can be found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and starch.
3. Oligosaccharides have a good effect on the stomach while polysaccharides provide the overall energy needed by humans.
4. Oligosaccharides have a little sweetness while polysaccharides are sweet tasting in nature.

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