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Enzymes and digestion

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Enzymes in industry

Enzyme names

The names of the different types of enzymes usually end in the letters -ase. Three of the most common enzymes with their chemical actions are:

  • lipase - breaks down fats
  • protease - breaks down proteins
  • carbohydrase - breaks down carbohydrates

Enzyme uses

Enzymes allow certain industrial processes to be carried out at normal temperatures and pressures, thereby reducing the amount of energy and expensive equipment needed. Enzymes are also used in the home, for example, in 'biological' detergents. The table shows some common enzyme uses you should be familiar with.

Uses of enzymes

enzymeuse
proteaseused to pre-digest proteins during the manufacture of baby foods
lipaseused - together with protease - in biological detergents to break down - digest - the substances in stains into smaller, water soluble substances
carbohydraseused to convert starch syrup, which is relatively cheap, into sugar syrup, which is more valuable - for example, as an ingredient in sports drinks
isomeraseused to convert glucose syrup into fructose syrup - fructose is sweeter than glucose, so it can be used in smaller amounts in slimming foods

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