All about Sugar
Sugar can simply be described as a sweetener and preservative which is also a white crystalline carbohydrate in structure.Sugar is a source of energy to man and animals and can be found with small molecules or macromolecular substances. Sugar can be also be found in solid form and liquid form such as syrups. It may be in its own state or can be a component of different substances. A very good source of energy and high carbohydrate content and a valuable substance for the diet and food. Sugar comes from natural sources and there are various types which will be discussed in the following sections.
Sources of sugar
Sugar is naturally present in the fruits and vegetables. Fruits that contain sugar includes apple, apricot, banana, dried fig, grape, orange, peach, plum, pineapple and pear. Vegetables that contain sugar include red beet, carrot, sweet onion, sweet corn, sweet red pepper, sweet potato, yam, sugar cane, and sugar beet.
Types of sugar
The types of sugar are mainly classified as monosaccharides which are simple sugars and these include fructose(naturally occurring in fruits, cane sugar, honey and also some root vegetables), galactose(not in its free state but as a glucose constituent) and glucose( naturally occurring in fruit and plant juices). Then there are disaccharides which are compound sugars and these include lactose(naturally occurring in milk), maltose(from grain germination like barley) and sucrose(occurring in sugar beet roots and sugar cane stems).
Sugar can also be classified by types of color where there is brown sugar and white sugar usually from a consumer perspective. White sugar is considered to be refined or extra fine and is commonly used for food preparation. Brown sugar is generally not refined or partial and contains molasses and is very ideal for bakery and pastry. Other types may be deduced from state such as liquid sugar or from source such as fruit sugar. There seems to be various classification of sugar based on one’s perspective or purpose of use.
If one applies the right art of eating and strikes for balance then sugar will definitely be a healthy part of the diet. Sugar provides fuel for muscle, brain power and assists in natural functions taking place in living cells. It does not fatten as it is absorbed quickly and provides the right form of energy for one to get going. Sugar is also very ideal for weight regulation.
With sensible eating the 15 calories in a teaspoon of sugar will provide the right amount of energy for different forms of activities. All products containing sugar have the recommended intake levels one has to simply and consciously adhere to. Sugar enhances food taste and allows to intake other forms of minerals. In moderation, sugar is a nutrient.
Benefits of Sugar
One of the major benefits of sugar is that it is a very high energy source found in relatively abundant quantity. Other benefits include:
- Prevents bacteria growth by absorbing moisture as a natural preservative,
- Delays staleness in baked goods by keeping them moist,
- Make food taste better and increase acceptability
- Improve the tenderness and appearance of canned or processed fruits.
- Sources of sugar such as sugar cane are grown in the absence of pesticide resulting in a huge environmental benefit.
How sugar is made
Sugar is made by extracting the natural juice from either sugar cane or sugar beet by boiling to generate a highly rich syrup containing molasses. This syrup is filtered and spun in a whirling centrifuge to remove the molasses and then drying to produce the pure and natural white crystal sugar. Sugar cane or sugar beet have high sucrose content as compared to other sources of sugar making them ideal to produce sugar at even large scale operations.
Forms and Uses
- Brown sugars as the name defines its color are ideal for baking, confectionary and toffee production.
- Granulated sugars are used as sprinklers on the food table to add flavor and taste to the food. This form is ideal for the natural preservation used in stopping bacteria growth.
- Invert sugars are used in bread, beverages and sometimes in cake. It can also make syrup.
- Liquid sugars are used in the dairy product manufacturing such as ice cream and also jam and marmalade.
- Milled sugars are powdered sugar suitable for icing sugars and baking dust of confectioneries.
- Molasses is good for ethanol production and in other instance rum.
- Polyols also known as sugar alcohols to make chewing gums.
- Screened sugars are used as table sugar suitable for blending purposes in baking and decorations.
- Sugar cubes used as drink sweeteners.
- Syrups are used in baking and also production of medicinal syrups ideal for children to add flavor to medicine. It can be used as spread on confectionery.
- Fruit sugar is ideal for winemaking by fermentation and alcoholic beverages.
Other interesting uses of sugar
Sugar has other interesting uses besides merely eating or adding flavor to food. Outside eating, sugar in granulated form has been considered to treat and heal wounds before dressing is applied so as to kill bacteria. Sugar makes good body scrub and cleans those greasy hands as well. Sugar are also added to make freshly cut flowers last longer when added with vinegar and this kills bacteria too. Application for pedicure have been found for sugar including face cleansing as well and lipstick extension.
In the garden and home, sugar can be used as an interesting insecticide for ants, cockroaches and worms by adding other substances with it. Sugar can also be used to make a fly strip and also as a wasp catcher.
Sugar is good for removing grass stains on clothing and cleaning coffee bean grinders. And the peculiar smooth kisser!
General view of Sugar- How it is perceived
There is a general bad perception of sugar mainly from the negative effects (highlighted in the next section) the world has experienced over time and continues to do so. Lobbyists be it from the medical field, scientist, naturalist or general masses have vociferously demonized sugar and yet have not taken into consideration the moderation principle necessary in life to strike a balance in anything and everything. It would have been better and still is if the world is made conscious of the principle of sensible eating to experience the true and remarkable nutritional benefits of sugar. Not forgetting the other interesting uses previously described which one may never know because of so much negativity about sugar.
The world view lacks that right perception as one would believe that everything that has a natural form should have immense benefits and this will include sugar. It is hoped that true moderation and the necessary balance will be achieved to enjoy the gift of sweetness nature has provided for a sweet, energy boosting and healthy lifestyle through SUGAR!
Negative effects of Sugar
The negative effects of sugar are mainly to do with health side effects and these have been quite common all over the world. Some of the common negative effects of sugar include obesity and diabetes, high blood glucose levels linked with diabetes too, cardiovascular disease and dysfunction, hyperactivity especially in children and also tooth decay especially in children. Belly fat has also been linked to high sugar consumption and it has also been considered to be toxic to the liver when consumed in excess.
There are indications that too much sugar in the long run may sap brain power and also have links to cancer. Sugar is considered to be a silent killer as it also hides in many non-sugar foods such as fat free dressing, tomato sauce, crackers, bread and even tonic water. This make it difficult to determine and consume the recommended levels exposing one to the dangers of sugar.
Recommended dietary intake
According to the World Health organization, an adult is recommended to take about 25g or 6 teaspoons of sugar per day while children are recommended to consume not more than 3 teaspoons of sugar per day. These levels should help one to enjoy the sugar without the fear of experiencing the negative effects.
While sugar has most of the bad traits exposed and more pronounced, it is still a sweetener to Life and daily living. Its production can create employment and improve people’s livelihoods. Sugar by products can also be used to generate energy including electricity which can be one major hidden benefit of sugar. The by products can be good for farmers especially the cattle ranching. Such benefits should be highlighted so as to enjoy the sweetness and also concentrate on the positives.
Sugar will always be a worthy substance to enjoy and perhaps with the health awareness the world is experiencing, probably it’s good for further enjoyment and benefits from the sweet substance. Whether it is white or brown, solid or liquid, granulated or powder, in syrup form or inverted, Sugar is still around and still as sweet as ever. It will be enjoyed by the youth, the full grown and busy adult and choleric old people. Rich or poor, from the rural set up to the busy city, from the quiet village to the noisy town, sugar will be and still a sweet taste.
It is quite hard to imagine the world without the sweet taste of sugar. At times it might be so that sugar indeed sweetens the bitter times of life if one consumes it in full consciousness and awareness. It could be so why it has made so much attention in our diet not forgetting the sentiment to it. One thing that should never be over emphasized is let a balance be struck in order to enjoy this substance. Anything done or taken in excess is never right including the excessive consumption of sugar.
In this regard let’s enjoy the sweetness from Mother Nature in the form of sugar and let it be consumed in moderation and right quantities. May the positive aspects of sugar and its valuable uses be put to the fore for the world to enjoy and take up this energy boosting substance-energy we all need for our everyday work, activity and daily routines. Enjoy the sweetness of SUGAR!!