Amylopectin: What is it? Structure, Function, Side Effects and Reasons to Avoid Foods with This Carbohydrate

It is a molecule belonging to a type of starch. It has a variable structure built from multiple glucose units.

It is known as a polysaccharide , which is known to be a molecule that has more than one sugar unit, known as glucose.

Amylopectin is half of the structure of starch. Starch is a type of carbohydrate that contains two different polysaccharides.

To determine the presence of amylopectin in a soluble starch solution, the iodine test can be performed.

If you see the solution turn purple after doing this test, this will tell you that amylopectin is present in the starch.

The properties of amylopectin include the fact that this molecule is known to be soluble in water. Solubility refers to the ability of amylopectin to dissolve or mix with water.

Amylopectin also has two properties that make this molecule very popular for industrial uses.

It binds well with other compounds and participates in starch retrogradation. Starch retrogradation refers to the ability of starch to go from a liquid solution to a gel or thickened substance.

This is due to the rearrangement of the glucose chains in the amylopectin molecule. These properties allow amylopectin to be used in industrial properties such as the manufacture of adhesives and lubricants.

Amylopectin structure

Amylopectin is built from a series of glucose units linked by glycosidic bonds that allow two monosaccharides to bind to each other.

It is made up of numerous monosaccharides, which are glucose sugar molecules linked by these glycosidic bonds, and the structure of amylopectin can vary in size from 2,000 glucose units in length to more than 200,000 units.

Another characteristic of the structure of amylopectin is its shape, since it is a branched molecule.

The length of an amylopectin branch chain consists of 20 to 30 glucose units.

Reasons to avoid foods with amylopectin

Digestion with amylopectin can raise blood sugar and insulin levels, causing an increase in triglycerides and cholesterol, leading to a build-up of fat .

This carbohydrate is widespread throughout the food supply and is the main component of starches, including rice, bread, and potatoes.

However, by opting for foods that are lower in amylopectin and instead increasing your intake of foods that are high in fiber and low in glycemic index, you can avoid the negative side effects of this carbohydrate.

While starch molecules are considered the main form of energy storage in plants, glycogen is the main form of energy storage in humans and animals.

Amylopectina vs. Amylose

Amylose and amylopectin share some similarities, but they are also drastically different in the way they are digested and processed in the body.

The differences between these two starch molecules start with their physical structure. Amylose is long and linear, while amylopectin is made up of thousands of branches of glucose units.

Although starches contain both carbohydrates, the ratio can have a major impact on how it is digested and processed.

This is because amylopectin is more easily digested and absorbed than amylose. That is why eating foods rich in this carbohydrate can cause spikes in blood sugar, insulin and cholesterol levels, as well as an increase in abdominal fat.

A high amount of amylopectin can also increase the glycemic index of foods, which is a measure of how much blood sugar levels rise after consumption.

Foods high in amylose tend to have higher levels of resistant starch, a type of starch that is not fully broken down or absorbed by the body.

Resistant starch has been shown to reduce fat storage, increase satiety, lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and improve insulin sensitivity.

Therefore, it is best to minimize your intake of foods that are high in amylopectin and instead focus on selecting starches that have a higher proportion of amylose to ensure that you get the greatest possible health benefits from a diet.

Amylopectin function

Amylopectin makes up the majority of the starch molecule, which is the main form of energy storage for plants.

Like humans, animals, and all living organisms, plants need energy in order for them to grow and function.

Plants use a special process called photosynthesis, which involves the use of chlorophyll to convert sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water into sugar or glucose, to use for energy.

Any additional glucose is stored as starch, which the plant can convert back to glucose when it needs a little extra energy.

In humans, when we eat starch, it turns into sugar or glucose, which can also be used for energy.

The cells in our body depend on this energy to function, ensuring that we can build and maintain healthy tissues, move our muscles, and keep our organs functioning efficiently.

Like plants, humans can also hold glucose for later use in the form of glycogen, which is stored primarily in the muscles and liver and can easily be converted to glucose when needed.

Side effects

  • Sugar in the blood.
  • Increases cholesterol levels.
  • Increase belly fat.

This occurs because of the following:

Blood sugar: Foods with a higher amount of amylopectin have a higher glycemic index, which means that they can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin levels.

Insulin is the hormone responsible for transporting sugar from the blood to the tissues where it can be used.

When the body maintains high levels of insulin for a long period of time, it can decrease the effectiveness of insulin, leading to insulin resistance and high blood sugar.

Increases cholesterol levels: In addition to increasing blood sugar levels, a diet high in amylopectin could also negatively affect blood cholesterol levels.

Research shows that eating foods with a higher glycemic index, such as those that are high in amylopectin, may lower triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels.

Studies have also found that insulin resistance, which can occur as a result of a high-glycemic diet, may be associated with an increase in cholesterol production.

Eating a high amylopectin diet led to increases in cholesterol and triglyceride levels compared to a high amylose diet.

Meanwhile, multiple animal studies have found that resistant starch from higher concentrations of amylose could lead to lower concentrations of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood in rats.

Increase belly fat: One of the most visible side effects of amylopectin is its effect on the waist. That’s because eating a lot of amylopectin can increase insulin, leading to an increase in visceral fat.

Insulin plays an important role in the storage and metabolism of fat. It blocks the breakdown of fat and increases the absorption of triglycerides from the blood into the fat cells.

Maintaining high levels of circulating insulin can cause insulin resistance, as well as an increase in fat storage and a decrease in fat burning.

Also, eating foods with a high glycemic index, such as those with a higher proportion of amylopectin, can increase hunger and the risk of overeating.

On the other hand, studies have shown that amylose and resistant starch can improve fat burning, promote satiety, and reduce fat storage.

Amylopectin Foods

Although all starches contain it, certain types may have a higher proportion of amylopectin than others.

Simple carbohydrates that have a high glycemic index are likely to be higher in amylopectin, while foods with a lower glycemic index are likely to be higher in amylose.

Foods high in amylopectin include:

  • Short grain rice.
  • White bread.
  • White potatoes.
  • Cookies.
  • Pretzels.
  • Instant oatmeal.
  • Puffed rice.
  • Cornflakes.
  • Rice cakes.

Foods that are higher in amylose can help maintain normal blood sugar levels, keep cholesterol levels low, and prevent fat accumulation.

Foods highest in amylose include:

  • Long grain rice.
  • Avena.
  • Quinoa.
  • Sweet potatoes.
  • Bananas
  • Integral.
  • Barley.
  • Rye.
  • Beans.
  • Vegetables.

It is recommended that people eat a balanced diet that is low in starch or amylopectin to prevent diseases related to sugar or glucose in the blood that later be harmful to health.