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Sugar Facts

Answers to Questions about Sugar

What is Sugar?
Sugar (sucrose) is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in every fruit and vegetable. It is the major product of photosynthesis, the process by which plants transform the sun's energy into food. Sugar occurs in greatest quantities in sugar cane and sugarbeets from which it is separated for commercial use.

Does refined sugar contain preservatives or other additives? No. Refined sugar is 99.9 percent pure. It contains purified sugar -- pure sucrose. It contains no preservatives or additives of any kind.

What nutritional impact does refined white sugar have on my diet?
Refined white sugar is pure sucrose, a carbohydrate. Carbohydrates provide energy, contain no fat, and like protein contribute 4 calories per gram in your diet (as opposed to the 9 calories per gram contributed by fat).

Your body treats sucrose in the same way regardless of its source. In fact, your body uses all sugars in the same way, so eating refined sugar, or honey, or sugars from any other source has the same effect on your body -- it is converted into glucose and used by the cells for energy.

How does brown sugar differ from white sugar?
Brown sugar is sugar crystals in specially prepared molasses syrup with controlled natural flavor and color components. A number of sugar refiners make brown sugar by preparing and boiling special syrup containing these components until brown sugar crystals form. Others produce brown sugar by blending special flavored syrup with white sugar crystals.

How can brown sugar be stored to prevent hardening?
Store brown sugar in a way that allows the product to retain its natural moisture--in its original plastic bag (closed tightly) or in a moisture-proof container.

If the sugar hardens, let it stand overnight in a sealed jar with a piece of bread, damp paper towel or apple slice. For a quick fix, heat the needed amount in a 250° oven for a few minutes. Or, put 1 cup of water in a microwave with the opened bag of sugar, microwave on low for 1-2 minutes per cup. Use immediately.

How much sugar do Americans really eat?
Not as much as reported. Using information from a 2001 report as illustration, a general statement like "Americans consume more than 150 pounds of sugar in a year" is not only thoroughly misleading, it is completely wrong. Such false assertions perpetuate the myth that "Americans eat too much sugar." The fact is the average American consumes no more than 1.6 ounces of sugar per day or less than 40 lbs. annually.

The source of this 1999 report information is the Economic Research Service [ERS] of the United States Department of Agriculture. ERS statistics are purely economic numbers. By convention, economists use the term consumption to describe the total supply of any product available for all commercial uses during a specific period of time. Economic consumption simply indicates the total weight of a product that is used throughout a year. No matter the goods, economic consumption is calculated by subtracting year-end inventory from the sum of the amount of merchandise produced during the year + the stock-on-hand at the beginning of the same year.

Ignoring the descriptive term "economic" and misrepresenting supply numbers as human consumption is not only deceptive, it is dishonest. A news release2 like "According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, sugar consumption in 1999 was 158 pounds per person - 30% higher than in 1983." misleads the American consumer. Reporting economic supply numbers as nutrition fact is as fictitious as equating gross salary [total available supply] and take-home pay [human consumption]. Besides misrepresenting economic supply numbers as human intake, there is a second factual error in this news release. This error is using the word sugar to represent all sweeteners.

Sugar is only one component of the total sweetener supply. When tabulated by ERS, total caloric sweeteners include all the corn syrups + honey products + miscellaneous edible syrups, like sorghum, as well as sugar. Total caloric sweeteners is cumbersome to say or write repeatedly, thus the term sugars was adopted for convenience [note the s on sugars]. Although the term sugars was coined to represent all caloric sweeteners, some continue to write and talk about sugar [pure sucrose from sugar cane and sugar beets] instead of sugars. This is more than semantics. Continued misrepresentation of total caloric sweeteners [sugars] as sugar [no s] is not only flawed but damages America's hardworking farmers and the stability they bring to their local economies.

Are there published articles related to the effects of sugar on the human body?

For more information about Sugar view this article:

"The Healthy Truth About Sucrose - Current Knowledge of the Effects of Sugar Intake."