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By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · June 9, 2014
From a plant perspective, carbohydrates fall into three categories: simple sugars active in plant intermediary metabolism; storage compounds such as sucrose, starch, and fructans; and structural carbohydrates such as pectin, cellulose, and hemicelluloses. For the horse, however, it is more appropriate to classify carbohydrates by where and how quickly they are digested and absorbed.
Carbohydrates can be digested and absorbed as monosaccharides, simple sugars (primarily glucose and fructose), in the small intestine, or they can be fermented in the large intestine to produce volatile fatty acids (VFA) or lactic acid. The rate of fermentation and types of end products produced are quite variable and can have significant effects on the health and well-being of the horse...
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