SUGAR

Is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. Table sugargranulated sugar, or regular sugar, refers to sucrose, a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose.

Simple , also called monosaccharides, include glucose, fructose, and galactose. Compound sugars, also called disaccharides or double sugars, are molecules composed of two monosaccharides joined by a glycosidic bond. Common examples are sucrose (glucose + fructose), lactose (glucose + galactose), and maltose (two molecules of glucose). In the body, compound sugars are hydrolysed into simple sugars.

Longer chains of monosaccharides are not regarded as sugars, and are called oligosaccharides or polysaccharides. Starch is a glucose polymer found in plants, and is the most abundant source of energy in human food. Some other chemical substances, such as 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 fruit are abundant natural sources of unbounded 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 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 lb) of sugar each year, with North and South Americans consuming up to 50 kilograms (110 lb) and Africans consuming under 20 kilograms (44 lb).[1] As sugar consumption grew in the latter part of the 20th century, researchers began to examine whether a diet high in sugar, especially refined sugar, was damaging to human health. Excessive consumption of sugar has been implicated in the onset of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and tooth decay. Numerous studies have tried to clarify those implications, but with varying results, mainly because of the difficulty of finding populations for use as controls that consume little or no sugar. In 2015, the World Health Organization recommended that adults and children reduce their intake of free sugars to less than 10%, and encouraged a reduction to below 5%, of their total energy intake.[2]

Etymology[edit]

The etymology reflects the spread of the commodity. From Sanskrit (śarkarā), meaning “ground or candied sugar”, came Persian shakar, then to 12th century French sucre and the English sugar.[3]

The English word jaggery, a coarse brown sugar made from date palm sap or sugarcane juice, has a similar etymological origin: Portuguese jágara from the Malayalam cakkarā, which is from the Sanskrit śarkarā.[4]

History[edit]

Ancient world to Renaissance[edit]

Asia[edit]

has been produced in the Indian subcontinent[5] since ancient times and its cultivation spread from there into modern-day Afghanistan through the Khyber Pass.[6] It was not plentiful nor cheap in early times, and in most parts of the world, honey was more often used for sweetening. Originally, people chewed raw sugarcane to extract its sweetness. Sugarcane was a native of tropical areas such as the Indian subcontinent (South Asia) and Southeast Asia.[5][7]

Different species seem to have originated from different locations with Saccharum barberi originating in India and S. edule and S. officinarum coming from New Guinea.[7][8] One of the earliest historical references to sugarcane is in Chinese manuscripts dating to 8th century BCE, which state that the use of sugarcane originated in India.[9]

In the tradition of Indian medicine (āyurveda), the sugarcane is known by the name Ikṣu and the sugarcane juice is known as Phāṇita. Its varieties, synonyms and characteristics are defined in nighaṇṭus such as the Bhāvaprakāśa (1.6.23, group of sugarcanes).[10] Sugar remained relatively unimportant until the Indians discovered methods of turning sugarcane juice into granulated crystals that were easier to store and to transport.[11] Crystallized sugar was discovered by the time of the Imperial Guptas, around the 5th century CE.[11] In the local Indian language, these crystals were called khanda (Devanagari: खण्ड, Khaṇḍa), which is the source of the word candy.[12] Indian sailors, who carried clarified butter and sugar as supplies, introduced knowledge of sugar along the various trade routes they travelled.[11] Traveling Buddhist monks took sugar crystallization methods to China.[13] During the reign of Harsha (r. 606–647) in North India, Indian envoys in Tang China taught methods of cultivating sugarcane after Emperor Taizong of Tang (r. 626–649) made known his interest . China established its first sugarcane plantations in the seventh century.[14] Chinese documents confirm at least two missions to India, initiated in 647 CE, to obtain technology for sugar refining.[15] In the Indian subcontinent,[5] the Middle East and China, sugar became a staple of cooking and desserts.

Europe[edit]

Two elaborate sugar triomfi of goddesses for a dinner given by the Earl of Castlemaine, British Ambassador in Rome, 1687

Nearchus, admiral of Alexander of Macedonia, knew of sugar during the year 325 BC, because of his participation in the campaign of India led by Alexander (Arrian, Anabasis).[16][17] The Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides in the 1st century CE described sugar in his medical treatise De Materia Medica,[18] and Pliny the Elder, a 1st-century CE Roman, described his Natural History: “Sugar is made in Arabia as well, It is a kind of honey found in cane, white as gum, and it crunches between the teeth. It comes in lumps the size of a hazelnut. Sugar is used only for medical purposes.”[19] Crusaders brought sugar back to Europe after their campaigns in the Holy Land, where they encountered caravans carrying “sweet salt”. Early in the 12th century, Venice acquired some villages near Tyre and set up estates to produce sugar for export to Europe. It supplemented the use of honey, which had previously been the only available sweetener.[20] Crusade chronicler William of Tyre, writing in the late 12th century, described sugar as “very necessary for the use and health of mankind”.[21] In the 15th century, Venice was the chief sugar refining and distribution center in Europe.[9]

There was a drastic change in the mid-15th century, when São Tomé, Madeira, and the Canary Islands were settled from Europe, and sugar grown there.[22][23] After this an “all-consuming passion for sugar … swept through society” as it became far more easily available, though initially still very expensive.[24] By 1492, Madeira was producing over 1,400 tonnes (3,000,000 lb) .[25] Genoa, one of the centers of distribution, became known for candied fruit, while Venice specialized in pastries, sweets (candies), and sugar sculptures. Sugar was considered to have “valuable medicinal properties” as a “warm” food under prevailing categories, being “helpful to the stomach, to cure cold diseases, and sooth lung complaints”.[26]

A feast given in Tours in 1457 by Gaston de Foix, which is “probably the best and most complete account we have of a late medieval banquet” includes the first mention of sugar sculptures, as the final food brought in was “a heraldic menagerie sculpted in sugar: lions, stags, monkeys … each holding in paw or beak the arms of the Hungarian king”.[27] Other recorded grand feasts in the decades following included similar pieces.[28] Originally the sculptures seem to have been eaten in the meal, but later they become merely table decorations, the most elaborate called triomfi. Several significant sculptors are known to have produced them; in some cases their preliminary drawings survive. partly cast in molds, with the final touches carved. They continued to be used until at least the Coronation Banquet for Edward VII of the United Kingdom in 1903; among other sculptures every guest was given a sugar crown to take away.[