Facts about sugar

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sugar cane
Slices of sugar cane can be chewed as a sweet treat straight from the field
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Some facts about sweet sugar show its role as an energy source

The body is an intricate machine able to do many amazing things including energy production. In order to understand various facts about sugar, one needs to explore an overview of nutrition and realize that when it comes to energy production, a full 100 percent of the body’s energy comes from just three necessary components—carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Some interesting facts about sugar are revealed when one learns about the three: Carbohydrates break down into sugars. Proteins break down into amino acids. Fats break down into fatty acids and glycerol, a liquid from fats and oils. Sugar is classified as a simple carbohydrate, for its molecules are very small. Facts about sugar show simple carbohydrates lend quick energy because the small molecules are assimilated, fast. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are constructed of long chains of simple carbohydrates. Complex carbs—those in rye, corn, root vegetables, beans and wheat-based products—provide a slower stream of energy. It is some of the tastiest sugars—honey, maple syrup and fruit sugars—that provide the quick pick-me-up associated with sweeteners comprised of simple carbohydrates. The morning rush for many people starts at the breakfast table when pancakes, waffles, oatmeal or French toast are baptized with spiraling strands of golden Vermont maple syrup or some other delight such as honey. Facts about sugar always include cautions about moderation but much is to be said for a piping-hot stack of flapjacks bathed in Vermont maple syrup or golden honey.

Sugars are made in nature

Sugar is the name given to various chemical compounds—including maltose, lactose and sucrose—that are members of the carbohydrate category. Facts about sugar show the substance to be widely manufactured in natural ways through photosynthesis in plants and to have a natural presence in animal tissues. Some with a sweet tooth would like nothing better than to investigate facts about sugar by sampling a big scoop of maple cream placed atop some freshly baked muffins, served with a side of cob-smoked bacon and buttermilk pancakes. The sweet surprises often are found at fine hotels or in packaged mail-order gifts called breakfast baskets. Treat collections of that nature are well endowed with pure syrups or sucrose—often called cane sugar.

• Sugar cane accounts for more than half of the world’s intake
• Sugar beets reinforce the rest of the world’s sugar supply
• Milk sugar is called lactose; it breaks down into simple sugars
• Malt sugar is called maltose; it is assimilated in digestion
• Fruits and table sugar contain fructose, a source of quick energy

Sugar cane fuels an industry

Facts about sugar show Hawaii, Louisiana and Florida to be major growing areas for sugar cane. Puerto Rico does its share. Nevertheless, it is Brazil, Mexico, India and Australia that produce the heaviest portion of sugar cane for sweetening all kinds of products. The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) annually publishes valuable information that includes facts about sugar and updates to a USDA chart—My Pyramid—that indicates what foods, in what proportions, should be ingested for good health. Strong bones, a healthy heart and a glowing complexion are benefits of a good diet. Basic facts about skin always show that good health is related to diet. The USDA My Pyramid info can help, for facts about sugar and facts about diet are helpful in planning meals. The journey of sugar cane—a tall, thin woody plant resembling bamboo—from the farmer’s field to the kitchen table is an interesting trek.

• Sugar cane is cut at the base and stripped of leaves
• Stems are ground and crushed between rollers
• Squeezed cane juice is extracted through pressure
• The squeezed husks are water sprayed to claim sugar residue
• Raw juice is boiled to filter off impurities
• Clear cane juice is evaporated and heated, forming syrup
• Syrup is spun in a centrifuge at high speed
• Molasses is the heated substance forced out by centrifuging
• Subsequent boiling refines the molasses and whitens it
• The sugar crystals are powdered, granulated or lumped
• Some molasses is retained to make brown sugar

Beet sugar feeds mostly animals

The leaves and tops of the sugar beet provide a valuable resource for feeding livestock. Among the more interesting facts about sugar are those that show that beet sugar is processed almost exactly like cane sugar. The only difference is that beet molasses is fed to livestock. Difficulties in purifying the product have kept it from providing molasses for human consumption at the kitchen table.

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