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Veterinarian Reviewed on January 9, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
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Sucrose is composed of both Fructose and Glucose, and is more popularly known as table sugar or saccharose. It is a crystalline powder that is odorless and with a sweet taste, which is widely used in and for human nutrition. There is about 150,000,000 metric tons of sucrose that are produced annually.

The purity of sucrose is measured by polarimetry. Commercial sugar is measured by this system. Sucrose cannot be damaged by air, but it decomposes as it melts at 367F to form into caramel.

Sucrose can be found in many crops, but Sugar Cane is the most popular and widely used source of sucrose. The processed sugar that is commonly used in homes and in various industries actually comes from sugar cane and sugar beets.

History and Origin

The history and origin of table sugar or sucrose is entwined with religion, colonialism, trade, industry, capitalism, and technology. The first to domesticate sugar cane sometime in 8,000 BC were the people from New Guinea. Solid sugar was only mentioned in history during 500 AD in India. After domestication, cultivation of sugar cane rapidly spread throughout southern China and India. Later, the Muslim traders and conquerors exported the cane and the refining techniques to the Middle Eastern and European countries.
Spanish and Portuguese explorers and conquerors also brought sugar to Iberia, Sicily and Madeira. Christopher Columbus was the one who carried sugar cane seedlings to the New World.

Ancient Uses

People that lived during the more ancient times would actually chew on the raw sugar cane in an attempt to extract its sweetness. However, around 350 AD, the Indians first discovered how to crystallize the sucrose. Sucrose or table sugar then quickly became a regular ingredient in cooking and in making desserts.

The ancient Greeks and Romans considered the use of sucrose and table sugar as an important medicinal remedy to cure ailments of the intestines and stomach, as well as to reduce pain residing in the bladder and in the kidneys.

During the latter part of the 16th century, sucrose was mixed with lemon juice and water to make lemonade as a special drink to be drunk on the Sabbath day be religious people.

Modern Uses

Sucrose in sugar form is largely used in confectionery and in most popular desserts. It is used by cooks as a sweetening ingredient. With sufficient concentrations, it can also be used as a food preservative in jams, processed fruits, preserves, and also in condensed milk.

Sucrose contributes to the crust flavor and color, as well as to the freshness found in biscuits and cakes.

Sucrose is also used in the cellulose and plastic industry, and in the manufacture of ink and in making transparent soaps. It is also used as the base material in the production of ethanol, Glycerol, butanol, and citric and levulinic acids.

Sucrose acts as a food for yeast in baking and in cider and beer brewing.

Side Effects

Too much consumption of processed sugar has been linked to quite a few health issues. Sugar and other chemical forms of sugar can cause tooth decay, obesity, coronary heart disease, glycation, and also diabetes.

The formation of high concentrations of acid may appear on the surface of a tooth, which may then lead to tooth demineralization. Sucrose is also converted to dextran that glues the bacteria to the surface of a tooth. Therefore, sucrose could initiate Streptococcus mutans to stick strongly and which then would avoid most rigorous attempts at removal. In other words, the dextran pose as the reserve food supply for the bacteria that causes tooth decay.

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Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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