Sugar, Facts and all about it

Sugar; Facts and all about it

Sugar may be any of the sweet, colourless, and water-soluble compounds present in the sap of seed plants and the milk of mammals and this makes up the simplest group of carbohydrates. The most popular sugar is sucrose, a crystalline tabletop and industrial sweetener used in foods and beverages. This write-up is about sugar, facts and all about it.

What is sugar

 sugar is a form of carbohydrate and contains carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules. When carbohydrates are consumed, they are dig and broken down into glucose. This serves as the preferred energy source for cells throughout the human body including your brain and central nervous system.

In chemical terms, “sugar” usually refers to all carbohydrates of the general formula Cn(H2O)n. Sucrose is a disaccharide, or double sugar, being composed of one molecule of glucose linked to one molecule of fructose. Because one molecule of water (H2O) is lost in the condensation reaction linking glucose to fructose, sucrose is represented by the formula C12H22O11 (following the general formula Cn[H2O]n − 1).

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Why are sugarcanes used for making Sugar?

Sucrose is found in almost all plants on earth, but its concentration in sugar cane is high making economic recovery possible and profitable.

Sugarcane is the first crop to be cultivated for sugar. It was first developed from wild varieties in the East Indies.  Sugar is also made from sugar beet which was developed as a crop in Europe during the Napoleonic Wars when France sought an alternate homegrown source of sugar in order to save its ships from running blockades to sugarcane sources in the Caribbean.

Once sugarcanes are harvested, they cannot be stored because of the sucrose decomposition.  Cane sugar is therefore produced in two stages, manufacture of raw sugar and refining of the raw sugar into finished products.

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What are the different types of sugar?

Carbohydrates come in two main forms: simple and complex. The difference between the two is how quickly they are digested and absorbed, which is determined by their chemical structure. Complex carbohydrates are formed from three or more sugar molecules, whereas simple carbohydrates are composed of either one sugar molecule (monosaccharides) or two (disaccharides).

The four most common forms of simple sugars include:

  • Glucose
  • Fructose (a.k.a. fruit sugar)
  • Sucrose (a.k.a. table sugar)
  • Lactose (a.k.a. dairy sugar)

But these four different types of sugar can be categorized further into natural sources of sugar and added forms.

What is the difference between added sugar and natural sugar:

 The type of sugar in candy and most sugary drinks is known as added sugar. As you would suspect, this form of sugar is added to foods and beverages to help enhance flavour, colour, texture, and shelf life. Essentially, this type of sugar adds calories but no special nutritional value which is why it’s commonly referred to as empty calories.

Added sugar in moderation is fine, but most people consume much more than they realize.), top sources of added sugar include soda, fruit drinks, cereals, cookies, cakes, candy, flavoured yoghurts, and many processed foods.

Natural sugars are found naturally in foods like fruits and milk. Although sugar doesn’t provide much benefit, it comes as part of a complete nutrient package with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Foods with natural sugars tend to be nutrient-dense and also fibre-rich, providing the body with a variety of health benefits. But certain foods that contain natural sugar can also have hidden added sugar.

What are the different names of added sugar:

Added sugars aren’t always plain like black-and-white, and can often be disguised in the ingredient lists under names. Here are Some examples of hidden sources of added sugar include:

  • Agave Nectar
  • Barley Malt Syrup
  • Brown Sugar
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Cane Juice
  • Cane Sugar
  • Coconut Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Corn Syrup Solids
  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Evaporated Corn Sweetener
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert Sugar
  • Malt Syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maple Syrup
  • Molasses
  • Palm Sugar
  • Raw Sugar
  • Rice Syrup
  • Turbinado Sugar
  • White Granulated Sugar

How to calculate sugar on food labels?

Total sugar content on labels includes both added sugars and natural sugars together, whereas the added sugar value underneath depicts the amount of sugar that has been added to the product which is the type we should try to limit. Since added sugars are part of the total sugar count, they can never exceed the total sugar number.

If you want to calculate the number of natural sugars in a food or beverage, simply subtract the added sugar number from the total sugar value. And remember that the ingredients list on any food panel goes by weight. If a food list added sugar as the first ingredient, it’s likely to have poor nutritional value and may be calorically dense.

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