What is sugar? Sugar is a sweet short-chain soluble carbohydrate found in the cells of plants. Although all plants contain a certain amount of this soluble carbohydrate, the amounts and ease with which it can be extracted varies, making it expensive to use most other plant as in the production of commercial sugar. The sugars we’re all familiar with is extracted from one of two plant sources; sugar cane or sugar beets. Since sugar cane requires ample amounts of water and warm climate, it’s mostly grown in tropical countries where it was once the main farming industry. Sugar beets can be grown in colder climates including the US. Worldwide sugar production exceeds 170 million tons, which means the sugar market is huge.
When Robert B. Sherman wrote the lyrics "With a Teaspoon of Sugar" for the Mary Poppins movie, he had no idea of what this simple word, sugar, would provoke in the future. Sugar is one word that can provoke hours of discussions and emotions. A spoonful of the sweet, innocuous white granules is loved by children, feared by adults, dangerous according to the healthcare industry, and discouraged by registered dietitian nutritionist? How can one simple food be so powerful and hold the interest of so many? Sugar can also cause confusion, because it’s known by many names and masks under many forms.
Regardless its names and appearances, one thing does not change - all sugar is the same!
Why is sugar is dreaded when it tastes so good? Think of the empty, non-nutritious calories, the obesity, heart disease and hypertension emerging science is linking to sugar! Our tastes have become accustomed to eating sweet, so candies originally used sparingly for treats and special occasions, are now commonly found for just pennies everywhere. Sugar is also used in food manufacturing even in savory foods. This practice and the increase in processed, manufactured foods production, has increased sugar consumption to extraordinary amounts, causing health related problems never predicted. Sweet taste is addictive, and many can't go long without the taste of it, in any form.
Should you never use sugar? Considering the fact that sugar is used in most processed foods, and we eat processed foods, most of us ingest more sugar in a day than we assume. When Julie Andrews sang the popular lyrics, "just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down in a most delightful way" in her Mary Poppins role, were these words meant as sagacious advice to future generations to use sugar in moderation? I've always believed she was emphasizing the word just and using it as an adverb, meaning only, merely, barely or scarcely. Doesn't that mean just one to you? To me it means barely any.
Using real sugar is better than artificial sweeteners, but train your palate to need less sweetness in your foods. .My advice always is, if you like it and must, use it in moderation. That means, use as little as possible and as seldom as possible. And find other healthier foods to satisfy your sweet tooth such as fresh fruits.
Did you know that ...?
- You can substitute fruits or fruit juices for sugar in many recipes?
- The addition of flavoring herbs, spices and extracts can easily make up for excessive sugar in cooking?