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Jul 19, 2007 07:01 AM

What is sugar?

Is is glucose or sucrose or fructose ?. I am very into eating for health and I know that glucose is preferable but I don't know what form it takes. I know I should avoid high fructose corn syrup which is cheap and in everything but I don't want to avoid sugar as I don't trust the fake sugars like stevia or God forbid saccharin or aspertame and I don't like unsweetened beverage. nyone know the answer. I can't believe I can't find the information.


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  1. Here are the basics:

    BTW, I grew up near a plant that made sugar beets into sugar. Good Lordy, what a stench that place threw off! Least popular school field trip destination because of that. :))

    1. Table sugar is a disaccharide (as mentioned in the wiki link - either made from Sugar Beets or Sugar Cane). It's two sugar molecules with a weak bond - one fructose and one glucose ... joined together they make Sucrose.

      Corn Syrup is mostly glucose with a small dash of fructose. Additional processing (and I mean a lot of processing) enables them to create HFCS, which is usually equal parts fructose and glucose (or close to it), however, the sugars aren't bonded, they're just swimming around together in the syrup, side by side, so there's some sort of loss of "mouth feel" that many folks can detect.

      Glucose is also sold at "Dextrose" (that's the sugar that's often used in chalk-like candies like SweeTarts) or you can get Corn Syrup. It's not a bad sweetener for liquids, but it does have a very "soft" feel on the tongue, just as fructose has an odd cool feeling.

      In moderation HFCS are not that bad, but the difference between sugar-sweetened and HFCS is irrelevant when it comes to pure calories. I read somewhere that Americans get 20% of their daily calories just from drinks. Wanna moderate your weight? Learn to drink unsweetened drinks like iced tea, iced coffee or just plain water. You might want to start by making your own drinks where you wean yourself ... slowly adding less and less sugars. Certainly better than using artificial sweeteners which were recently shown to mess with your "satisfaction index" or ability to tell when you're full. (But of course artificial sweeteners have their place, especially for diabetics and others with blood sugar problems.)

      Personally, I like to stick to sugar in my desserts and leave it out of everything else. It takes a while to retrain yourself, but it's a mostly-painless way to remove extra calories from your diet.

      1. You may have seen my comment on guar gum:

        I did major in biochemistry in college (despite my current means of support...) and I am pretty sure that most of my professors would agree that too much of anything is not good for one's health. They'd also say the most information we have about nutrition comes after the fact -- you look at a group of people that have been eating something and then try and figure out whether it is their diet or their genes or their environment that makes them sick/healthy...

        Sugar is yummy, ask any two-year old...

        1. I remember an article in the "New Yorker" last year that described all the work various food companies are doing to create the next artificial sweetener. Although the current artificials are anywhere from 100 to 10,000 times "sweeter" than natural sugar, all of them have a drawback. Saccharine leaves a slightly metallic taste, cyclamates may (or may not!) promote cancer, etc. It was quite fascinating. Apparently, for our hunter/gatherer ancestors, sweetness was an indication that the food was safe to eat, and so we have developed a prediliction for sweet foods. I think Malcolm Gladwell wrote the article, but I'm not certain.

          As a type II diabetic, I first thought that I had to avoid sugar like the plague. However, the experience of many type II's is sugar is not the main culprit - carbohydrates in general are. When I was first diagnosed, I gave up all sweets - cakes, candy, jelly, fruit juices, etc. - and replaced them with high-fibre cereals for breakfast, turkey sandwiches for lunch, and dinners that were heavy on salads, potatoes, rice, and light on meats and sauces. Surprisingly, my blood sugar levels continued to rise, and my doctor kept increasing my primary medication, and adding a second and third as the levels kept going up.

          Then I found out about "glycemic index", and found that much of the information that the various national diabetic associations published about diet was exactly wrong. I cut out the "beige foods" - potatoes, rice, bread (white and whole wheat), cereals, etc. - and limited my diet to meat, coloured vegetables, and certain fruits (berries, apples, the occasional orange). Not only did my blood sugar levels plummet to near normal levels, I started to lose weight rapidly (20 lbs in a month), and I was able to reduce or cut out most of my medications. (Note: I do take a fibre supplement, even though I eat a ton of coleslaw.) For bread, I now look for "whole grain" breads only, which have a much heartier texture than refined flour breads. I've become a fanatic for reading food labels, and the first thing I usually look at is the total carbs, and then the dietary fibre. Although fibre is a carb, it doesn't get digested by the body, so diabetics subtract fibre from total carbs to get "net carbs". Since you're not diabetic, your body can probably tolerate many more net carbs than I can, but if you moderate the refined flours, potatoes, rice, etc., I'd be willing to say that a teaspoon of sugar in your coffee or tea won't hurt you.

          For many more indepth discussions of this top, you can go to "google", select "groups", and then look at the group "", where diet, sugar, carbs, etc. are discussed virtually every day.