Sugar: is it bad or good for health?
Overview: What is Sugar?
Sugar is a broad term employed for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, which commonly find application in food and beverages. Most plants have sugars in their tissues. Simple sugars may be found in abundance in honey and fruit. On the other hand, sugarcane and sugar beet have a high sucrose concentration, making them excellent for industrial extraction to manufacture refined sugar. Sugar consumption increased in the second half of the twentieth century and is part of the daily diet worldwide. It has 4 per gramme, or 16 calories per level teaspoon (4 g). It does not have any nutritional value on its own. Due to the changing taste preferences towards sugar, scientists began to investigate whether a high-sugar diet, particularly refined sugar, was harmful to human health. Sugar intake is linked with a wide range of health concerns, such as the development of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and tooth decay.
The History and Evolution of Sugar:
Sugar was first produced in the Indian subcontinent and is dated back to ancient times. However, the product was not available in abundance or considered necessary; in fact, it wasn't until the Indians found a way to convert sugarcane juice into crystallized sugar. Then, through travel, sugar was introduced from India to China and later to the rest of the world. As a result, sugar gained significant popularity by the 19th century and became a staple in every household.
Sugar: Good or Bad for Health?
As sugar's popularity and demand grew, people became increasingly concerned about its health effects. Sugar constitutes glucose and fructose, which are our body requires as glucose is a source of energy to perform various functions. However, excess sugar consumption paired with other unhealthy lifestyle practices such as drinking, smoking, lack of physical activity, etc., are likely to cause further problems. One of the primary concerns regarding sugar intake is if it is fattening. Sugar is proven to increase total calorie intake as people consume more food with sugar. Despite that, sugar by itself is not a fattening agent, and people are not likely to eat it by itself. Furthermore, it is linked with hyperactivity, leading to unhealthy behaviours like smoking, alcohol abuse, and insomnia. Other issues directly related to sugar intake are tooth decay nutritional displacement.
As the argument grows, there is a growing inclination towards sugar replacements like stevia, jagger, honey, etc. As a result, sugar-free alternatives are being rapidly adopted in the food and beverage sector. Also, people are shifting to natural flavours, taking an interest in knowing the ingredients, and reading labels to ensure a sugar-free diet.
There are various alternatives of sugar readily available in the market. Natural sugars present in fruits and vegetables are great for daily intake. However, added sugar should be consumed in moderation as it is linked to higher calorie intake and various health concerns.
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