Honey was the world's natural sweetener until Columbus brought the western world cane sugar in the 16th century. However sugar crystals were being extracted over 2000 years ago in India and it is the Indonesian word shekar that gives us the English term sugar.
Today it is recommended that we cut down on the amount of sugar that we eat as sugary foods are known to cause tooth decay. The average person's sugar consumption still stands at about 1kg for a week.
|Honey is produced naturally from nectar by bees.
- Nectar, a sugar solution in water collected from flowers by the bees is converted by enzymes in the bee's body.
- Glucose and fructose are deposited in honeycombs.
- Granulated Honey is the super-saturated solutions formed. Granulation occurs as the sugar crystallises out of the solution.
- Liquid honey is processed by flash heating.
|Sugar in the Kitchen
- Brown sugars are used for their taste and moistness, often used in fruit cakes. There are several varieties of brown sugar; light muscovado is creamy coloured and soft, where as demerara has large golden crystals.
- Confectioner's sugar or icing sugar is used for making candies and for frostings.
- Syrups are important for baking, confectionary and toppings, with maple syrup being a famous topping for pancakes and waffles. However maple syrup is also a hidden sugar in some manufactured foods, for example, maple syrup is used in both baked beans and in ice cream.
|Sugar in Foods
|Sugar occurs both naturally in foods and it is also added during processing.
- FRUCTOSE & LACTOSE occur naturally in foods: fructose is found in fruit and lactose in milk. These foods are important as they also provide the body with other valuable nutrients.
- ADDED SUGAR. - About half of which comes from sugar added to tea, coffee, breakfast cereals and sugar used in cooking in the home: A slice of plain cake provides 3 tsps of sugar. The other half of added sugar comes 'hidden' in manufactured foods. Sweet foods which we buy ready made are highly palatable and are also very popular.Sugar provides both taste and an important source of energy but too much sugar can lead to obesity and tooth decay. The table on the next page shows the sugar content of certain manufactured foods and it is important to have an awareness of such levels in order to prevent too high a sugar intake.
|Artificial sweetners provide the body with very little energy and are therefore used in energy reduced diets. However sweeteners such as saccharin have recently been a cause of controversy amongst medical experts. Some claim that saccharin can adversely affect health and its use has consequently been banned in the USA.