How Sugar is Used
People all around the world eat sugar as part of a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet. Many people worry that eating sugar may be bad for their health. Their concern is unnecessary as extensive research has not been able to link the consumption of sugars to any chronic disease except dental caries (tooth decay). And even though dental caries has been associated with sugar consumption, there are many other factors (including the consumption of other carbohydrates and oral hygiene) that play an important role in the development of caries.
Uses of Sugar in Foods are mentioned below:
Sugar is an important source of food energy. During digestion, all food carbohydrates (starches and sugars) break down into single molecule sugars. These sugars are absorbed from the intestine into the blood stream and travel to the cells, where they are used to provide energy for cellular functions. In parts of the world where people suffer from energy malnutrition and are undernourished, sugar is valued as an inexpensive source of energy to support human activities.
Sucrose is stored in large quantities in sugar cane plants. After it has been separated from its plant materials it can be purified to produce sugar on a commercial scale. Sugar cane is a major agricultural product and important source of revenue for many developing countries.
Sugars have a number of functions in the preparation of foods, such as improving taste and texture. Important uses of sugars in food include:
i) Providing sweetness. ii) Serving as preservatives in jams and jellies. iii) Increasing the boiling point or reduces the freezing point of foods. iv) Allowing fermentation by yeast. v) Reacting with amino acids to produce color and flavor compounds important to the taste and golden brown color of baked goods. vi)Making foods that have limited moisture content crisp.
Table sugar can be used to make oral rehydration solution (ORS), which can help prevent dehydration in children who have infantile diarrhoea or vomiting in developing countries. The effective use of ORS saves millions of lives around the world each year. Although recipes for ORS vary from country to country, one widely used recipe is made up of 1 litre of water, 8 teaspoons sugar and ½ teaspoon of salt.
Fortification of foods with micronutrients is generally recognised as the most cost-effective long-term strategy for eliminating micronutrient malnutrition. It is also socially acceptable, requires none or little change in food habits and characteristics, and provides a means for reaching the greatest percentage of the population requiring the micronutrients. Sugar is a safe and economical foodstuff that is accepted and consumed by populations at risk including those who are very poor. So fortified sugar can play a critical role in fighting nutrient deficiency.