How Much Sugar Is Too Much?

We know that there is an epidemic of Diabetes around the Western World.  Why now? Sugar has been around since 509 BC Emperor Darius of Persia invaded India and discovered sugar cane, “the reed which gives honey without bees.

When the Arabs spread their culture through in the 7th Century they discovered sugar in Persia and the secret of the sweet spice was out. Sugar was first recorded in London in 1099. The Venetians first refined sugar in the 15th Century. Columbus took sugar cane plants to the Caribbean and a new industry was born in the New World.

By 1750, there were 120 sugar refineries in Great Britain. Beets were identified as a source of sugar in 1747, but not used in quantity until the Napoleonic Wars caused the British to blockade sugar cane to the rest of Europe. Sugar beets became the main source of sugar to Europe, as a result. Today about 40 million tons of sugar are produced worldwide. Sugar has been big business since England built refineries and the government was able to tax and control the business of sugar.

In today’s world sugar comes in many other forms: agave, high fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup to name a few. Which is the healthiest choice for you?

Here are some definitions and descriptions to help you sort out the sweets.

1.     White sugar or pure refined sugar. It is 99.9% sucrose, which is a double sugar molecule and the body breaks it down into glucose and fructose.

2.     Caster sugar means smaller granules of refined white sugar.

3.     Icing sugar or powdered sugar-dissolves better in liquids or egg whites.

4.     Raw sugar-similar to white sugar in nutrient value, but brown colored.

5.     Brown sugar is sucrose with 5% molasses added. This gives a tiny amount of minerals and nutrients.

6.     Fructose, the fruit sugar, is metabolized differently. It is a single sugar molecule. Pure refined fructose is converted to body fat more easily than glucose. It is released more slowly when consumed with the fiber from whole fruit.

7.     Glucose is the form of sugar that your body actually uses for cellular energy. It is also a single sugar molecule. Athletes will take pure glucose (called Dextrose) for extreme athletic events. If not utilized by the body for energy it will be converted to fats (called triglycerides) by the liver and then stored as body fat.

8.     Agave nectar or syrup is 90% fructose. It is not more nutritious than sugar, despite its reputation.

9.     High fructose corn syrup is made from cornstarch and contains 55% fructose and 45% glucose. Because it is made from corn, a government subsidized crop, it is much cheaper than sugar, but just as sweet. Regular corn syrup is glucose (called Dextrose on food labels) and is not as sweet. High fructose corn syrup requires a number of chemical processes to convert part of the glucose into fructose. This fructose is not necessarily natural because of the chemical processing and may alter the taste in foods, despite the sweetness.

See my next blog for more about the different types of sugar and how much is too much.