Every household has this traditional food staple in their pantry. We bet that you do too. Not only do you have it in your pantry but you probably have it in many different types and forms of food. Today, sugar is present in almost all foods that we consume. We know about sugar. It is a friendly word part of our daily vocabulary now.
But do you really really know about sugar? Like, where does it come from? How many types of sugars are there? What are the pros and cons of consuming each type of sugar? Which sugar should you absolutely steer clear from and which sugar should you not mind having as part of your healthy diet? How much sugar is recommended vs how much sugar do you actually consume?
Just like with anything, the more you know about it, the better informed you will be and the easier it will be when it comes to making healthy eating decisions. Therefore, it is important to educate oneself on understanding the basics of sugar. Here are some simple facts about sugar:
- Sugar is a carbohydrate and it is our main source of energy.
- Sugar is found in almost all foods, including, fruits, vegetables, canned food, milk, etc.
- Sucrose, extracted from sugar cane or sugar beet, is what table sugar is called.
- Though widely distributed, we never eat Glucose in its purified form.
- Sugar cane and sugar beets have the highest concentration of sugar in them.
- The recommended intake of sugar in men is less than 9 teaspoon and less than 6 teaspoon for women. People actually have 22 teaspoon every day.
- There are 44 grams of sugar, which is 10 tsp in one can of soda.
There are three types of carbohydrates:
- Monosaccharide – There are three main monosaccharide, which is a one molecule sugar, that form:
- Glucose – found naturally in some fruits and vegetables, plants.
- Fructose – main sugar found in fruits, honey, root vegetables, some grains and berries.
- Galactose – found mostly in dairy products such as milk or yogurt or avocado.
- Disaccharide – This is when two simple sugars are linked together. See below for the three kinds of disaccharide:
- Sucrose is when glucose and fructose are mixed together. Table sugar is a form of sucrose. It is usually extracted from sugar cane, sugar betters or maize.
- Lactose is when glucose and galactose are mixed together. Milk is your main source of where lactose comes from.
- Maltose, also known as malt sugar, is when glucose is mixed with glucose and it comes from malt grain.
- Polysaccharide – It is when 10 or more simple sugars are linked together to form starch
- Starch is found in vegetables and grains, such as potato, rice, wheat, etc.
Sugar comes in many forms. It can be found as regular white sugar which is readily available nearly in every place (homes, restaurants, grocery stores, etc). Brown sugar is also known as light brown sugar, demerara sugar, muscovado sugar, etc. Liquid sugar comes in the form of liquid.
You may be wondering about high fructose corn syrup, aka HFCS…which we haven’t mentioned so far yet. HFCS are most commonly found in your soda drinks, desserts, cereals, and many more staple foods. HFCS has been a contributing factor to the epidemics numbers we see in the rise of diabetes, heart disease, cancers, obesity in the US. Alternatives to HFCS can be cane, pure honey. Once you understand what HFCS is and why you should avoid it if you can, you can take the right steps in avoiding it.
Some tips in avoiding HFCS include:
- Avoid fast foods
- Eat fresh vegetables and fruits
- Avoid beverages that are canned or bottled
- Always read the labels on the product you are getting to see if it contains HFCS and if so, how much of it
There is no disputing the fact that sugar is present everywhere and in different forms. Doing your research on the forms of sugar and where they come from and what they do to our bodies is important in order to make informed decisions if you’d like to live a long and healthy life.