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Uses of Sugar

People all around the world eat sugar as part of a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet. Many people’s are 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.

Bowl of homemade oatmeal porridge with banana, blueberries, almonds, coconut and caramel sauce on teal rustic table from above, hot and healthy food for Breakfast

Sugar as a Source of Energy

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.

Food containing sugar. Too much sugar in diet causes obesity, diabetes and other health problems

Function of Sugar in Foods

Sugars have a number of functions in the preparation of foods, such as improving taste and texture. Important uses of sugars in food include:

  • Providing sweetness
  • Serving as preservatives in jams and jellies
  • Increasing the boiling point or reduces the freezing point of foods
  • Allowing fermentation by yeast
  • Reacting with amino acids to produce colour and flavour compounds important to the taste and golden brown colour of baked goods.
  • Making foods that have limited moisture content crisp

Medical uses of sugar

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.

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