It is believed that cane sugar was discovered before the birth of Christ. As early as 500 B.C., India was said to have a “reed which gives honey without bees.” This reed would later become known as sugar cane.
The invasion of Arabs into India nearly 1,000 years later in 642 A.D. led to the spread of sugar cane to the rest of the world. The Arabs discovered sugar cane and learned how it was processed by the Indians. They brought the cane with them as they conquered much of Europe, introducing it to lands such as North Africa and Spain. For many years, however, the rest of Europe was stuck with honey, because sugar did not make it to the west until the crusades. The first record of sugar in England occurs in the year 1099.
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate. There are two types of sugars – monosaccharides, which include glucose, fructose and galactose, are made of one sugar molecule, and disaccharides are made of two sugar molecules linked together. Disaccharides are formed when monosaccharides combine – for example, when glucose and fructose are combined, they form sucrose, also known as table sugar. Other disaccharides include maltose, dextrose and lactose. When many sugar molecules are linked together, they form a complex carbohydrate, also known as a starch.
Invert Sugar, Mannitol, Sorbitol, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, maltodextrins, granulated sugar, and Xylitol. Added sugars can come from corn, beet, grape or sugar cane, which are processed before being added to foods. Sugars can also be naturally occurring (in fruit) or added (in soda).
Sugar provides the sweet flavour to foods to which it has been added, and it may also act as a preservative and flavour enhancer. Sugar is used in a variety of foods, including cookies, cakes, pickles, ice cream, alcohol and jams and jellies. Types of sugar include raw sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, maple sugar and corn syrup.
Sugar gives the body energy, but too much sugar is unhealthy. Sugar, provides 16 calories per teaspoon, but provides no vitamins and minerals, so it’s a good idea to use it in moderation. Overconsumption of sugar, like other carbohydrates, has been linked to the development of cavities. However, sugar consumption has not been linked to hyperactivity in children. A high intake of sugar does not cause diabetes, but if a person is diagnosed with diabetes the amount of simple sugar eaten daily often needs to be reduced.
The body actually uses all sugars the same way- it changes them to glucose, which is what our body uses for energy. However, in order to get long-lasting energy for your body, you need to eat more complex sugars (or carbohydrates) such as whole grain products. Eating too many simple sugars, like from soda or sweets, gives you quick energy or a “sugar high” which is quickly gone, leaving you feeling sluggish. You can avoid eating too much sugar by being smart and knowing how to find it on a label.
Find sugar in ingredients listings by looking for –ose at the end.
If you can take a few minutes to read nutrition labels amid the chaos of family grocery shopping, you will find sugar as an ingredient in a surprising number of foods like peanut butter, canned tomatoes, salsa, canned chicken soup, deli-meats and pancake mix. Many juices and beverages also contain sugar.