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Starch vs. Cellulose: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Starch is a digestible polysaccharide found in plants, used for energy storage; cellulose is an indigestible polysaccharide forming plant cell walls.
Starch vs. Cellulose

Key Differences

Starch is a carbohydrate found in many plants, primarily serving as an energy reserve. Cellulose, also a carbohydrate, is a major component of plant cell walls, providing structural support.
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Starch molecules are organized in a way that makes them easily digestible by humans and animals. In contrast, cellulose has a rigid structure that resists digestion in most animals.
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Starch can be broken down into glucose units by enzymes in the digestive system. Cellulose, however, remains mostly undigested, acting as dietary fiber in human nutrition.
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The structure of starch typically consists of amylose and amylopectin, both important in food industries. Cellulose’s linear chains of glucose units form strong fibers, utilized in paper and textile production.
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Starch is present in foods like potatoes, rice, and maize, offering a significant energy source. Cellulose, abundant in every plant, plays a crucial role in maintaining plant rigidity and shape.
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Comparison Chart

Function in Plants

Energy storage
Structural support
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Digestibility

Digestible by humans and animals
Indigestible, acts as fiber
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Structural Composition

Amylose and Amylopectin
Linear chains of glucose units
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Usage

Food and energy source
Paper, textile production
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Presence in Diet

Common in many foods
Found as fiber in plant foods
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Starch and Cellulose Definitions

Starch

A polysaccharide carbohydrate serving as energy storage in plants.
The starch in potatoes provides a good source of energy.
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Cellulose

A complex carbohydrate forming the structure of plant cell walls.
Cellulose gives vegetables their crisp texture.
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Starch

A white, tasteless substance found in plant tissues.
Adding starch to soups thickens them.
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Cellulose

Indigestible fiber found in plants.
Cellulose is a major component of dietary fiber.
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Starch

A complex carbohydrate that plants synthesize.
Starch is abundant in grains and legumes.
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Cellulose

A key structural component in the plant kingdom.
The cellulose in wood contributes to its strength.
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Starch

Used in cooking and food preparation for its thickening properties.
Cornstarch is a popular thickening agent.
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Cellulose

A polysaccharide made of glucose units, essential in plants.
Cellulose fibers are used in making paper.
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Starch

A key ingredient in the human diet, derived from plants.
Bread, a staple food, is high in starch.
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Cellulose

Non-digestible by humans, but important in the ecosystem.
Cellulose degradation is crucial in the recycling of plant matter.
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Starch

A naturally abundant nutrient carbohydrate, (C6H10O5)n, found chiefly in the seeds, fruits, tubers, roots, and stem pith of plants, notably in corn, potatoes, wheat, and rice, and varying widely in appearance according to source but commonly prepared as a white amorphous tasteless powder.
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Cellulose

A polysaccharide, (C6H10O5)n, that is composed of glucose monomers and is the main constituent of the cell walls of plants. It is used in the manufacture of numerous products, including paper, textiles, pharmaceuticals, and insulation.
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Starch

Any of various substances, such as natural starch, used to stiffen cloth, as in laundering.
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Cellulose

A complex carbohydrate that forms the main constituent of the cell wall in most plants and is important in the manufacture of numerous products, such as paper, textiles, pharmaceuticals, and explosives.
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Starch

Starches Foods having a high content of starch, as rice, breads, and potatoes.
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Cellulose

(organic compound) A polysaccharide containing many glucose units in parallel chains.
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Starch

Stiff behavior
"Dobbs, the butler ... isn't as stiff as he used to be.
Ann, my brother's new wife, has loosened up his starch a bit" (Jennifer St. Giles).
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Cellulose

Consisting of, or containing, cells.
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Starch

Vigor; mettle
"Business travel can take the starch out of the most self-assured corporate titan" (Lisa Faye Kaplan).
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Cellulose

Consisting of, or containing, cells.
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Starch

To stiffen with starch.
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Cellulose

The substance which constitutes the essential part of the solid framework of plants, of ordinary wood, cotton, linen, paper, etc. It is also found to a slight extent in certain animals, as the tunicates. It is a carbohydrate, (C6H10O5)n, isomeric with starch, and is convertible into starches and sugars by the action of heat and acids. When pure, it is a white amorphous mass. See Starch, Granulose, Lignin.
Unsized, well bleached linen paper is merely pure cellulose.
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Starch

(uncountable) A widely diffused vegetable substance, found especially in seeds, bulbs and tubers, as extracted (e.g. from potatoes, corn, rice, etc.) in the form of a white, glistening, granular or powdery substance, without taste or smell, and giving a very peculiar creaking sound when rubbed between the fingers. It is used as a food, in the production of commercial grape sugar, for stiffening linen in laundries, in making paste, etc.
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Cellulose

A polysaccharide that is the chief constituent of all plant tissues and fibers
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Starch

Carbohydrates, as with grain and potato based foods.
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Starch

(uncountable) A stiff, formal manner; formality.
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Starch

(uncountable) Fortitude.
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Starch

(countable) Any of various starch-like substances used as a laundry stiffener
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Starch

To apply or treat with laundry starch, to create a hard, smooth surface.
She starched her blouses.
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Starch

Stiff; precise; rigid.
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Starch

Stiff; precise; rigid.
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Starch

A widely diffused vegetable substance found especially in seeds, bulbs, and tubers, and extracted (as from potatoes, corn, rice, etc.) as a white, glistening, granular or powdery substance, without taste or smell, and giving a very peculiar creaking sound when rubbed between the fingers. It is used as a food, in the production of commercial grape sugar, for stiffening linen in laundries, in making paste, etc.
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Starch

Fig.: A stiff, formal manner; formality.
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Starch

To stiffen with starch.
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Starch

A complex carbohydrate found chiefly in seeds, fruits, tubers, roots and stem pith of plants, notably in corn, potatoes, wheat, and rice; an important foodstuff and used otherwise especially in adhesives and as fillers and stiffeners for paper and textiles
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Starch

Stiffen with starch;
Starch clothes
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Can humans digest cellulose?

No, cellulose is mostly indigestible and acts as dietary fiber.
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What is cellulose?

Cellulose is an indigestible carbohydrate forming plant cell walls.
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Is starch used in industrial applications?

Yes, starch is used in food processing and other industries.
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Do animals digest starch differently from humans?

Some animals have different enzymes for starch digestion.
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How does cellulose contribute to a healthy diet?

Cellulose, as fiber, helps in bowel regulation and health.
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What is starch?

Starch is a carbohydrate in plants, used for energy storage.
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Are humans able to digest starch?

Yes, humans can digest starch as a source of energy.
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What is the role of cellulose in plants?

Cellulose provides structural support to plant cell walls.
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What foods are high in starch?

Foods like potatoes, rice, and bread are high in starch.
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What are common uses of cellulose?

Cellulose is used in paper production and as a textile fiber.
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Is cellulose important in the human diet?

Yes, as dietary fiber, cellulose aids in digestion.
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What is the chemical composition of cellulose?

Cellulose is composed of long chains of glucose units.
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Are there different types of starch?

Yes, such as rapidly digestible, slowly digestible, and resistant starch.
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How is starch broken down in the body?

Starch is broken down into glucose by digestive enzymes.
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Why can't humans digest cellulose?

Human digestive enzymes can't break down cellulose's beta bonds.
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Can starch be converted into sugar?

Yes, starch is broken down into glucose, a form of sugar.
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Is starch beneficial for health?

In moderation, starch provides essential energy and nutrients.
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Does cellulose have a nutritional value for humans?

While indigestible, it’s valuable for digestive health.
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What's the difference in structure between starch and cellulose?

Starch has branched structures; cellulose is linear.
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Can cellulose be used in biofuels?

Yes, cellulose is a potential source for biofuel production.
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Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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