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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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
Can sugar be good?
In moderation, unrefined sugars are probably best considered less harmful than refined sugars - refined sugars are certainly not a vital part of the diet and can be harmful to the body if taken in extreme levels. Refined sugars pose a threat to society as it is readily available, inexpensive, addictive and consumed by children and people of all ages contributing to varying sorts of disorders or illnesses. Simple sugars (monsaccharides) are what comprise complex carbohydrates and are used as a fuel (energy) for all bodily and brain functions and at the end of the day the unused energy (sugar) will be stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen for later use. Naturally occurring sugars usually have many beneficial constituents as a part of the source (fruit, veg.,etc.) including vitamins and minerals essential to a healthy mind and body. Unfortunately, due to the age of pesticides, insecticides and herbicides, the foods containing beneficial naturally occurring sugars, vitamins, minerals are being depleted due to mass farming and insect/pest/weed control.
Scientists have understood that illnesses and disorders are in fact linked and related to all the minute chemical reactions that occur when metabolism of the foods we consume take place in our bodies- notably, we can avoid illness, disorder, disease by healthier eating AND exercising the physical body and mind.
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.
- 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.