Sunday, July 6, 2014

Random Facts About.... Sugar

Here we are again, talking about curious things about stuff we all use every day. We've discussed about Coffee, Chocolate and Fruits (click on links if you've missed these articles)… but now let’s find out some new facts about the compound in common with these three delicious products. I’m surely talking about Sugar… in case you haven’t noticed the title yet J

1. Sugar is the only taste humans are born craving. In fact it is strongly addictive, releasing an opiate-like substance that activates the brain’s reward system.
2. Sugar was one of the first pharmaceutical ingredients used, as still is today, to mask the bitter taste of medicines.
3. Sugar hides in many everyday "non-sugar" foods.  While many people strive to avoid the "normal" sugary culprits (candy, cookies, cake, etc.), they often are duped when they discover some of their favorite foods also contain lots of sugar. Examples include tomato sauce, French fries, hot-dogs, hamburgers, peanut butter, salad dressings, tonic water, marinates, crackers and even bread.
4. Fruits are high in sugar. However, the best way to consume fruits without affecting your insulin level is to drop the peeler. consuming them in whole form, with skin on. According to this researches, this way of eating fruits can be quite good also against cancer.
5. Sugar has many other uses outside of the kitchen: it's used to harden cement, slowing the setting of ready-mixed concrete and plays also a role in leather tanning, paper dying and printers’ ink production. And, last but not least, it prolongs the life of fresh cut flowers.

6. Some of you may not know, but the trick to curing hiccups is to get the nerves that regulate breathing synchronized by taking a teaspoon of granulated sugar. This is a well-known and useful method all around the world. Using lemon to create a mixture with sugar can multiply the chances for hiccup to go away. This because lemons contains a huge amount of sugar, more than strawberries.
7. Can you imagine eating 16 sugar cubes at one sitting? You probably have even if you don’t remember that. That’s a little less than what is contained in a 20-ounce bottle of cola.

8. Sugars are molecules of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The simplest include glucose, fructose, and galactose. Table sugar is crystallized sucrose, a fusion of one fructose and one glucose molecule.
9. The artificial sweeteners saccharin and aspartame were found accidentally when lab workers doing research that had nothing to do with sweetening put a bit of the test compounds in their mouths and liked what they tasted.
10. Sugar can be used to explore skies. Burn sucrose with a dose of corn syrup and saltpeter and you get “sugar propellant”, a popular amateur rocket fuel.
11. More than half the 8.4 million metric tons of sugar produced annually in the United States comes from beets.
12. Glycolaldehyde, an eight-atom sugar, has even been found in an interstellar gas cloud near the center of the Milky Way. Glycolaldehyde can react with a three-carbon sugar to form ribose, the basis for both RNA and DNA, so the glycol­aldehyde found in deep space may be a chemical precursor to life on Earth. That cloud also contains ethylene glycol, a sweet relative of glycol­aldehyde and the main ingredient in antifreeze. So complex sugars can be synthesized between the stars.

13. Honey can be used as a sugar substitute. Another one is derived from a plant called Stevia, known by many people in South America for the sweetness of its leaves, even for medicinal properties. It is still used today for centuries by the indigenous peoples of South America for its healing powers. It's used as a sweetener, as it is much sweeter than  common sucrose. The active ingredients are stevioside and rebaudioside A, which are found in all parts of the plant but are mostly found  in the leaves, which when dehydrated have a sweetening power from 150 to 250 times the common sugar. Unlike sugar, the active ingredients do not have any nutritional value (zero calories), and are relatively stable over time and at high temperatures, so perfectly preserve their characteristics in baked goods or hot drinks, unlike other synthetic sweeteners such as aspartame, which undergoes degradation. The use of Stevia was banned in Europe and US because it was believed that some of the sweeteners components (stevioside and steviol) of the plants were considered genotoxic. Nowadays the maximum daily dose of steviol is 2 mg/Kg. 

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