Sugar

Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. Simple sugars, also called monosaccharides, including glucose, fructose, and galactose. Compound sugars, also called disaccharides or double sugars, are molecules made of two bonded monosaccharides; common examples are sucrose (glucose + fructose), lactose (glucose + galactose), and maltose (two molecules of glucose). White sugar is a refined form of sucrose. In the body, compound sugars are hydrolyzed into simple sugars.

Longer chains of monosaccharides (>2) are not regarded as sugars and are called oligosaccharides or polysaccharides. Starch is a glucose polymer found in plants and is the most abundant source of energy in human food. Some other chemical substances, such as glycerol and sugar alcohols, may have a sweet taste but are not classified as sugar.

Fun Facts

Sugars are found in the tissues of most plants. Honey and fruit are abundant natural sources of simple sugars. Sucrose is especially concentrated in sugarcane and sugar beet, making them ideal for efficient commercial extraction to make refined sugar. In 2016, the combined world production of those two crops was about two billion tons. Maltose may be produced by malting grain. Lactose is the only sugar that cannot be extracted from plants. It can only be found in milk, including human breast milk, and some dairy products. A cheap source of sugar is corn syrup, industrially produced by converting corn starch into sugars, such as maltose, fructose, and glucose.

               

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