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Sugar

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Sugar is a simple carbohydrate consisting entirely or essentially of sucrose that is naturally present in fruits and vegetables and is the most abundantly present sugar in nature.

Sugar once a luxury available only to the rich started its journey from the island of South Pacific where sugar cane was first discovered about 20,000 BC. But it wasn’t until 500 BC when the Indians discovered the technique of making crude sugar called “Gur” from sugar cane juice. The secret of making sugar was closely guarded for centuries as sugar continued to fetch riches to the traders. It was not until the 7th century when the Arabs invaded Persia and found the secret of making sugar.

The Europeans discovered this wonderful sweet spice only in the 11th century AD.

Contents

[edit] Why should I be aware of this?

Most people have no idea how much sugar they should consume in a day. In a world that seems to be immersed in sugar, it is apt to know how much is too much. According to a 2004 report from the American Dietetic Association, sweeteners account for about 15 percent of our daily calories. But that's just an average. Many people get 30 percent or more of their calories from added sugars -- far more than the average human body really needs.

According to the World Health Organization, added sugars should account for not more than 10 percent of calories. This advice is in line with the recommendations of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) food pyramid, which called for a maximum of 12 teaspoons of sugar (48 grams) in a 2,200-calorie diet -- or roughly 9 percent of daily calories.

[edit] How does this affect me?

Sugar is basically a carbohydrate and carbohydrates are an important source of food energy. There are two type of sugar in the food that we eat. Naturally occurring sugar in the fruits, vegetables and dairy products and then there are added sugar in processed foods. Sugar as such doesn’t contain any vitamins or minerals. It is a simple carbohydrate and doesn’t contain any complex carbohydrates like starch or fiber.

The consumption of sugar as such is not a problem but over consumption of sugar is. The carbohydrates consumed by us are immediately broken down to energy. They are stored as fat only when consumed more than the requirement of the human body and anything in excess can never be good. In today’s world of instant foods use of sugar is rampant in most of the product to enhance flavor hence leading to consumption of sugar in excess. Sugar once a luxury item has become the cheapest source of energy today.

[edit] Health Risk

  • Consumption of too much of sugar can lead to some serious health implications.
  • Obesity --Low level of activity and high level of consumption of sugar and fat in everyday diet leads to obesity. Obesity in turn leads to numerous health hazards. But a healthy balanced diet and routine workout can overcome this risk.
  • Dental problem is another major risk of excess sugar intake especially amongst children. Sugar acts as a source of energy to bacteria’s present in the teeth, the bacteria’s in turn produces acid that cause damage to the teeth leading to tooth decay. Practicing regular oral hygiene can solve this problem to a large extent.
  • Diabetes has been the cause of debate amongst sugar supporters and sugar opposers. While if sugar is the cause for diabetes might be unclear but a person suffering from this disease needs to practice caution as far as intake of sugar is concerned.

[edit] All about sugar

All plants produce sucrose through the natural process of photosynthesis. Table sugar that we know popularly today is the crystal or powder obtained mainly after refining sugar cane or sugar beet juice. A vital source of energy, sugar undoubtedly is a part of our staple diet.

[edit] Types of Sugar

Sugar can be broadly classified into two types’ refined sugar and sugar present naturally in nature.

  • Refined sugar is the common sugar or the commercial sugar as we know it today. It is widely available in the form of white granules in the market.

There is however no difference between the sugars extracted from cane or beet. Other types of sugar are also available in the market like palm sugar, maple sugar, corn syrup etc. However cane and beet reign supreme in the production of refined commercial sugar. Sparkling crystals, feather-light powders, moist brown sugars or thick syrups: sugars come in many types with distinctive flavors and uses. The color white stands for purity this is especially true in case of sugar, purer the sugar the whiter it is.

  • Sugar present naturally in nature -- Out of the hundreds of carbohydrates present in nature five are the main as far as sweetness is concerned. Sucrose or saccharose, glucose, fructose, maltose & lactose. Fructose is the sugar present in fruits and the sweetest of all followed by sucrose, glucose and maltose. Lactose is the least sweet and is the only sugar of note found in animals which is present in the milk. Theses sugars exist in nature either alone or as a mixture.

[edit] Use of Sugar

Though the primary use of sugar continues to be in the food and flavor industry, its uses in other non conventional spheres can not be ignored.

  • It is used as natural preservative
  • It is used for fermentation of alcohol
  • It is used as an ingredient in the printers ink
  • It is useful in slow setting of cements and glues
  • It is used in the pharmaceutical industry

[edit] Can sugar be good?

In moderation, unrefined sugars are probably best considered less bad than unrefined sugars - they are certainly not important or a vital part of the diet. Sugar that is needed for activity--such as weight training or a cardio workout--can be used as fuel, and the rest will be stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen for later use.

There are some sugars that are definitely 'good' - Fucose deficiency is increasingly seen as a major factor in the proliferation of many cancers. Where you don't have a Fucose deficiency you tend to see less cancer. Don't want cancer - increase your Fucose levels.

[edit] When to have sugar

Taken after a workout, sugar--combined with protein--expedites recovery while helping you pack on new muscle. In this way, sugar acts as a transport system, efficiently feeding your muscles when they need it most.

[edit] What can I do?

[edit] Good Sugar vs. Bad Sugar

The good news is you don't have to swear off sugar completely - just understand what it is that you are consuming. The key is understanding what's good and what's not so good. Generally sucrose is what is considered bad but even sucrose is required by the brain so what appears simple is in fact complex. The challenge is that our diets today are overly rich in foods containing sucrose and that's the real problem.

Sucrose, glucose, fructose and corn syrup are the most common compounds that are used in the food industry to sweeten virtually all foods. They increase the blood glucose levels very quickly which triggers a massive insulin response which in turn drives the blood glucose levels lower. The glucose being driven out of the blood stream is converted by an enzyme to Glycogen and stored in fat cells. If a person is not active, any excess sugar will get converted to Glycogen and stored. [1]

There are over 200 plant sugars found in nature - we only know a fraction of what they do. In general the sugars found in plants will be converted more slowly than sucrose giving a better blood glucose response - known as the Glaecemic Response.

Complex sugars (or complex carbohydrates) are found naturally in fruit, vegetables and grains. These sugars gradually enter the bloodstream to provide energy throughout the day. Foods like brown rice and whole wheat bread are good sources of complex sugars.

Complex sugars (mannose, fucose, xylose, galactose etc) are increasingly being seen to be helpful in terms of health.

[edit] Understanding your sugar intake better

The table sugar or candy and other sweetned products are not the only source of sugar. There are many hidden sources of sugar. In fact, anything which contains carbohydrate is a source of sugar. But all forms of such sugars are not "bad"for your health.

The label on a can of Pepsi reads 41 grams of carbs and 41 grams of sugar. This means that every single carbohydrate comes from sugar. The label on a package of plain oatmeal will read 18 grams of carbs and only one gram of sugar. Almost all of the carbs in oatmeal are made up of long chains of sugar molecules called "complex" carbs. Oatmeal, along with sweet potatoes, wheat breads, rice and corn, is a complex carb, also known as a starch.

These simple carbohydrates are either "unrefined" or "processed." Complex carbs are found in whole foods that contain sugar, such as fruits, vegetables, juices, grains and legumes, and that still hold their natural water, fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. Processed foods include white bread, soda, candy, crackers, cookies and just about any commercial product labeled "fat-free." These have been stripped of their wholesome attributes and are dense with nothing but empty calories. For instance, one gram of a cracker will contain four calories, but one gram of an orange contains about 0.2 calories, because the bulk of its weight is water and fiber.


[edit] CopperBytes

  • Sugar was one of the first pharmaceutical ingredients used, as it still is today, to mask the bitter taste of medicines.
  • In the 16th century, a teaspoon of sugar in London cost equivalent to $5.
  • Sugar is the only taste humans are born craving.
  • A can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar and a can of Pepsi has 41 grams of sugar. That is about seven teaspoons or 13 lumps of sugar per can.
  • Adding a spoonfull of sugar to the flower vase increases the life of the cut flowers.
  • Lemons contain more sugar than strawberries.
  • Sugar is used by chemical manufacturers to grow penicillin.
  • A can of cola contains 10 teaspoon of sugar equivalent to 150 calories.
  • An average American consumes 64 lbs of sugar every year.
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar or 4 gm of sugar is equivalent to 16 calories.

[edit] References

  • Sources of sugar
  • ILLOVO Sugar
  • Health Insite
  • Sugar Situation
  • How Much Sugar is Too Much?