Chemical Tests for Nutrients in Food

INTRODUCTION:

Cells are made up of small molecules like water; ions such as sodium and magnesium, and large organic molecules. There are four important types of large organic molecule in living organisms --- proteins, carbohydrates (sugars & starches), lipids (fats), and nucleic acids. Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats serve as nutrients in the food that we eat.

In this experiment you will evaluate the nutrient content of unidentified food samples. You will use chemical reagents to test the unknown for specific nutrients. By comparing the color change a reagent produces in the unknown with the change it produces in the known nutrient, you can estimate the amount of that nutrient. Use small samples.

MATERIALS:

400-ml beaker 
Hot plate
8 test tubes
Test tube rack
4 medicine droppers
Glass stirring rod
Tongs
Several unknown food substances
Glucose
Cornstarch
Non-fat dry milk
Lard
Distilled water
Benedict's solution
Iodine-potassium iodide solution
10% aqueous sodium hydroxide solution
0.5% Copper sulfate solution
Sudan III solution

PROCEDURE:

Monosaccharide (simple sugar) test

1. Fill a 400-ml beaker to about 300 ml with water and heat on the hot plate.

Be sure to label all test tubes.

2. Place pea-sized portions of glucose and the unknown substance you are testing in separate test tubes. Add about 2.5 ml of distilled water and 10 drops of Benedict's solution to each test tube. Mix with a stirring rod, or holding the tube between the thumb and index finger of one hand, thump it with the middle finger of the other hand to mix.

REMEMBER: If you use a stirring rod, wash it after every use, so you won't contaminate one solution with another.

3. When the water boils, use tongs to place the test tubes in the water bath. Leave the test tubes in the water bath for 10 minutes.

Do not let the water bath boil hard. Control the boiling by turning the hot plate on and off as needed.

4. Remove the test tubes with tongs and place the tubes in a test tube rack. Unplug the hot plate to cool. When the tubes cool, an orange or red precipitate will form if large amounts of glucose are present. Small amounts of glucose will form a yellow or green precipitate. Record your observations in the DATA TABLE.

Polysaccharide complex sugar) test

5. Place cornstarch in a clean test tube and some of the unknown substance in another. Use a clean dropper to add 10 drops of iodine-potassium iodide solution to each test tube. Observe the results and record in the DATA TABLE.

Protein test

6. Place non-fat dry milk in a clean test tube and some of the unknown in another. With a clean dropper slowly add an amount of sodium hydroxide solution about equal to the amount of the milk sample, and mix carefully. Then add 10 drops of copper sulfate solution one drop at a time. Mix gently between drops. Observe the results and record in the DATA TABLE.

7. Repeat step 6 with the unknown substance.

Lipid test

8. Place a small piece of lard in a clean test tube and some of the unknown in another. Use a clean dropper to add 10 drops of Sudan III solution to each test tube. Mix well, observe and record your results in the DATA TABLE.

DATA TABLE:

Mark your results in the appropriate boxes. Indicate relative amount by H for high, M for medium, L for low, or 0 for none.

Monosaccharide test Polysaccharide test

SUBSTANCE:
RELATIVE
AMOUNT:

SUBSTANCE:
RELATIVE
AMOUNT:
Unknown Unknown
Glucose Corn starch

Protein test Lipid test

SUBSTANCE:
RELATIVE
AMOUNT:

SUBSTANCE:
RELATIVE
AMOUNT:
Unknown Unknown
Non-fat dry milk Lard

CONCLUSIONS:

Question 1 . What is the main nutrient in the unknown?

Question 2. What are the controls in this investigation?

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