[by Robin Limb]
When it comes to the war against obesity, granulated white sugar has been singled out for blame.
Without wanting to recycle the endless justifications for sugar’s role in our diet, it is worth remembering its contribution to the food chain.
Sugar was first valued not for its sweetening power, but for preservation. Sugar exerts such strong osmotic pressure on bacteria that these bacteria cannot survive. Furthermore, it was used in the Crimean War to counter wound infection for the same reason.
Sugar also lends bulking properties to food products such as cakes, jams, biscuits and other confectionery. Artificial sweeteners are fine for soft drinks, but try making a cake with them.
Although sugar is an integral part of our daily diet, it is currently being cast as the villain of the piece. Many have been advocating for imposing a ban on it.
Had sugar was banned, we would have had to deal with issues that could be hardly solved.
Refined white sugar is just that: a molecule composed of glucose and fructose turned on its head – which both occur in naturally derived fruit and vegetables. The fact that sugar is white is down to chemical and physical properties: sucrose, in its white refined form is white by definition – it has not been ‘bleached’ or ‘colored’ by artificial processes.[i]
While the processed sugar has been accused as somehow being dangerous to our health and injurious to the young and the old, there are far higher levels of natural sugars in many other ‘natural’ foods than you can shake a stick at.
Refined sugar has become a convenient whipping boy in the current health debate, but the reality is that it has not much to do with the obesity epidemic.
[i] Many consumers believe that refined sugar is ‘white’ because it has been bleached with chemicals. Crystalline sugar is white because that is its natural color. The fact that it is in a refined format does not detract from the fact that sucrose is just a combination of a fructose molecule and a glucose molecule – both of which occur naturally in plants – chemical formula C12 H22 O11.