Term: Sugar

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**Historical Background and Spread**:
– Sugar has a rich history dating back to ancient times in the Indian subcontinent.
– The spread of sugar cultivation to regions like Afghanistan and Southeast Asia is noted.
– Early sweetening methods involved honey and palm sugar, with sugarcane being native to tropical areas.
– The introduction of sugar to Europe by Arabs and its influence on culinary traditions in regions like the Middle East, China, and India are highlighted.

**Health Effects and Consumption**:
– Excessive sugar consumption is linked to various health issues like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
– Recommendations by the World Health Organization to limit sugar intake are mentioned.
– Disparities in sugar consumption between different regions, with North and South Americans consuming more sugar annually compared to Africans, are outlined.
– The average yearly sugar consumption per person is quantified.

**Commercial Production and Chemistry**:
– Different sources of sugars, including sugarcane, sugar beet, and corn syrup, are discussed.
– The extraction and use of sucrose and maltose in various food products are highlighted.
– The chemistry of sugars, including monosaccharides and disaccharides, and their metabolic processes are explained.

**Modern History and Impact on Colonization**:
– Key events in the modern history of sugar, such as its introduction to the New World by Columbus and the development of beet sugar production, are detailed.
– The impact of sugar on colonization, including the demand for tropical areas, slavery, and its role in shaping various nations, is discussed.
– The role of sugar in fueling industrialization in sugar cane-growing regions and its association with the ethnic makeup of nations is emphasized.

**Production, Types, and Usage**:
– Recent trends in sugar production, including the top producers and importers, are provided.
– The types of sugars, such as monosaccharides and disaccharides, and their sources are explained.
– The sugar content in various fruits and vegetables, along with the global production statistics for sugar cane, are presented.

Sugar (Wikipedia)

Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. Simple sugars, also called monosaccharides, include glucose, fructose, and galactose. Compound sugars, also called disaccharides or double sugars, are molecules made of two bonded monosaccharides; common examples are sucrose (glucose + fructose), lactose (glucose + galactose), and maltose (two molecules of glucose). White sugar is a refined form of sucrose. In the body, compound sugars are hydrolysed into simple sugars.

Sugars (clockwise from top-left): white refined, unrefined, unprocessed cane, brown
German sugar sculpture, 1880

Longer chains of monosaccharides (>2) are not regarded as sugars and are called oligosaccharides or polysaccharides. Starch is a glucose polymer found in plants, the most abundant source of energy in human food. Some other chemical substances, such as ethylene glycol, glycerol and sugar alcohols, may have a sweet taste but are not classified as sugar.

Sugars are found in the tissues of most plants. Honey and fruits are abundant natural sources of simple sugars. Sucrose is especially concentrated in sugarcane and sugar beet, making them ideal for efficient commercial extraction to make refined sugar. In 2016, the combined world production of those two crops was about two billion tonnes. Maltose may be produced by malting grain. Lactose is the only sugar that cannot be extracted from plants. It can only be found in milk, including human breast milk, and in some dairy products. A cheap source of sugar is corn syrup, industrially produced by converting corn starch into sugars, such as maltose, fructose and glucose.

Sucrose is used in prepared foods (e.g. cookies and cakes), is sometimes added to commercially available ultra-processed food and beverages, and may be used by people as a sweetener for foods (e.g. toast and cereal) and beverages (e.g. coffee and tea). The average person consumes about 24 kilograms (53 pounds) of sugar each year, with North and South Americans consuming up to 50 kg (110 lb) and Africans consuming under 20 kg (44 lb).

As free sugar consumption grew in the latter part of the 20th century, researchers began to examine whether a diet high in free sugar, especially refined sugar, was damaging to human health. Excessive consumption of free sugar is associated with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and tooth decay. In 2015, the World Health Organization strongly recommended that adults and children reduce their intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake, and encouraged a reduction to below 5%.

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