Posts Tagged ‘white sugar’
You can tell as soon as Junior gets off of the bus. His class had an early Halloween party. The unmistakable glow of a 100% sugar diet emits from him like like the beam from a lighthouse, blinding… terrifying. You scramble to prepare your house and yourself for the whirlwind that will soon occur as your son makes the 30 yard dash from the bus stop to the front door in what seems like mere seconds. The door is thrown open and your perfect angels runs in, chocolate frosting still covering some of his left cheek and screams “HI MOMMY! THE SCHOOL LET US HAVE CUPCAKES AND CANDY FOR HALLOWEEN TODAY! ISNT THAT GREAT!” You wince as his backpack is thrown at the kitchen counter, and you grab knick knacks from the shelves in the living room to prevent them from falling to the floor as his tiny feet pound down the hallway to his room like a rhinocerous. You are sympathetic to the plight of his toys as the sounds of a boy in full hyper mode come crashing through the house.
Ahhh, the effects of a sugar rush. Every kid will experience it, every mom will deal with it. I have often wondered if there could be a place where small children under the influence of a “Snickers bar diet” could be placed in large hamster wheels and the running would generate enough power to light up Baltimore. Any mom who has ever been to a place like Chuck-E-Cheese on a Saturday night knows what I’m talking about.
So this week, with the Halloween holiday quickly approaching, we’re gonna talk about sugar, the types, the nutrients involved, the effects, the substitutes, and pros and cons of things like SweetnLow, high fructose corn syrup, stevia, and other recent sweet mentionables in the news. Part 1 is the history, the making, and the effects on the body of sugar. Part 2 is alternatives to sugar, the controversy behind the different artificial sweeteners, and Part 3 will tell you how to live a lifestyle that is sugar free but still satisfying and will not cause your kids to move to Grandma’s house.
Sugar, according to Wikipedia, is most commonly derived from sugar cane, a tall cornstalk like plant. The stalks grow in fields much like corn does, and when harvested they are boiled down to extract the juices called liquor. The liquor is heated, and processed to remove impurities, color, and contaminants, and during this time takes it crystal like shape, but since this is very time consuming most sugar manufacturers as sugar dust to speed up the process. The liquor and forming crystals are spun in a centrifuge to separate and the removed crystals are dried and packaged for sale. The raw sugar that is processed directly from the cane without any serious refinement is brown and quite strong flavored, with an almost nutty taste and much larger crystals. White sugar is boiled and refined a number of times to remove all the color and impurities.
Sugarcane was present in India and southeast Asia dating back to the early days of civilization, because of its love for a tropical climate and lots of rain. Indians would chew on the stalks of the sugarcane plant and suck on bits of the plant for its sweet taste. During the 500′s and 600′s Indians discovered ways of processing the cane into the granules commonly known today. This new product could easily be preserved for much longer than the cane stalks and would eventually become one of the most highly sought after trade items on the planet. Buddhist monks taught the Chinese how to grow sugarcane, and they were the first people to learn many different ways to incorporate sugar into their diet.
The Arabs learned how to make sugar granules from the people in India, and they were the first to start large scale production of sugar in that form for trade and commerce. Soon there were sugar plantations and refining mills spread as far as Africa, around the 10th century. British soldiers brought the first tastes of sugar back to Europe, where sugarcane can not be grown on a large scale, after the crusades in the Holy Lands of the Middle East, and it replaced honey as the most popular sweetener somewhere around the 12th century. Christopher Columbus would bring the first cuttings of sugar cane with him to the Americas when he discovered our lands in 1492. Raw sugar can easily be made and shipped all over the world, but white sugar is largely consumed in the country that it is made largely because it is still difficult to transport long distances in storage without spoilage of the product.
Sugar can also be made from sugar beets, a small plant that resembles a parsnip, and the processing is much easier, but the crop does not grow as quickly or spread as fast as cane does. It can be grown in colder climates, but the amounts of sugar made from an individual beet plant is much less than from a stalk.
What types of sugar are there?
Sugar is most commonly purchased in white or raw form. Raw sugar is the crystals in their purified but not extremely refined form. White sugar is also ground fine into powdered sugar, or caster sugar. Molasses is the dark thick sugar liquor that has been boiled down from the cane and purified without losing its color or strong flavor. Brown sugar should not be confused for raw sugar as it is usually white sugar that is colored and flavored with molasses.
What kind of value to the body does it have?
Sugar is, at its most basic form, a carbohydrate, or more accurately a group of carbohydrates. Sugars in their chemical compound formulas are known as sucrose, glucose, dextrose, fructose, and maltose, among other things, based on the number of chemical bonds. Sugar is found in the most basic bonds of existence, (human DNA contains deoxyribose) and is normally burned by the body to fuel energy. It is made by most plants as a form of stored energy, to keep for later use. Sugar increases the amounts of sugar in teh blood, fueling muscles and organs and allowing the body to go faster farther. However the effect of sugar is often short-lived and the crash that occurs when your blood sugar drops to normal, and often times lower, can be exhausting. This constant up and down of blood sugar causes hunger, cravings, emtional and physical symptoms as well, and can lead to serious health and mental problems if not managed. Large amounts of sugar were thought to be detrimental to the human body as a major cause of diabetes. Recent studies show that sugar by itself is not the cause of diabetes, (there are many variables including controlling the amounts of all carbohydrates that enter the body), but sugar is a major factor in obesity which is the number one cause of diabetes. Also, the human body adapts to amounts of sugar you consume, requiring more and more for energy, the more you eat it, which leads to weight gain. Consuming large amounts of sugar also leads to tooth decay and oral problems as well.