Why Add Sugar to Food
Avoiding excessive sugar intake is an accepted dietary guideline worldwide. The American Nutrition Facts Panel includes information on total sugars in foods. The focus on added sugars is related to the concept of discretionary calories and reducing the consumption of added or free sugars as a means of helping consumers identify nutrient-dense foods. The FDA proposes that the inclusion of an "added sugars" statement in the Nutrition Facts table would be another tool to help consumers reduce excessive discretionary calorie intake from added sugars. Through deductive reasoning, labeling added sugars is a potential strategy to curb the obesity epidemic in the United States. This review discusses the role of sugar in food and shows that methods used to replace added sugars in foods do not lead to a reduction in calorie content or an increase in nutrient density. Because there is no clear benefit to consumers from added sugar labeling, the review highlights the complex business hurdles, costs, and consumer confusion resulting from the proposed rule.
Carbohydrates, sugars, added sugars and sweeteners
Sugars and carbohydrates
The most common added sugar is sucrose or table sugar. Sucrose is a simple carbohydrate that occurs naturally in plants because they make sucrose through photosynthesis. The highest concentrations of sucrose are found in sugar cane and sugar beets, which are the primary sources for making commercial sugar.
Sucrose is one of many different types of carbohydrates that are widely distributed in nature. Structurally, carbohydrates are molecules of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, and carbohydrates are divided into 3 main groups: monosaccharides, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. Sugars are synonymous with carbohydrates.
As the name implies, monosaccharides consist of a single molecular unit and are the basic unit of almost all carbohydrates. Common monosaccharides found in nature include glucose (dextrose), galactose, mannose and fructose. Honey and fruit juices are common food sources of free glucose and fructose.
Oligosaccharides are usually composed of more than one monosaccharide, usually 2 to 10 monosaccharides. Disaccharides are the most common type of oligosaccharides found in foods. Sucrose is officially classified as a disaccharide, which consists of one molecule of glucose and fructose and is naturally found in fruits and vegetables. Lactose consists of galactose and glucose and is naturally found only in milk. Maltose consists of 2 types of glucose and is a by-product of the enzymatic degradation of starch by amylase. Alginose has a chemical structure similar to maltose and also contains 2 glucose molecules. It is widely distributed in nature, and mushrooms can contain up to 10% to 25% alginate by dry weight.
Polysaccharides are composed of a large number of monosaccharides, the most common in nature being starch (energy storage in plants), glycogen (energy storage in animals, including humans) and cellulose (support material and structural component in plants). Dietary fiber is another common polysaccharide in the human diet.
Monosaccharides and disaccharides are also known as sugars, simple carbohydrates or monosaccharides. Sugars are found naturally in foods or can be added during food processing. Naturally occurring sugars in foods can also be referred to as intrinsic or inherent sugars. Natural sources of sugar include vegetables, fruits, milk and honey. The most common sugar added to foods is sucrose, also known as table sugar.
Role and Metabolism of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are an integral part of a "healthy" diet. Once consumed, carbohydrates are digested and broken down into glucose. Carbohydrates (starches and sugars) are the body's primary source of energy, providing an average of 4 calories per gram, and glucose is essential to the function of the central nervous system. Therefore, the RDA for carbohydrates is set at 130 g/day for adults and children over 1 year of age, and the acceptable macronutrient distribution for carbohydrates ranges from 45% to 65% of total calories.
Because all sugars are carbohydrates, the body metabolizes them similarly by breaking them down into glucose for energy. In any case, if the sugar is naturally occurring or added during food processing, the molecular structure and nutritional value are the same, providing 4 calories per gram. In other words, the body does not distinguish between added sugars and naturally occurring sugars in food, so a person consuming 10 grams of added sugar or 10 grams of intrinsic sugar would have no effect on the body .
A sweetener is any natural or synthetic substance that provides a sweet taste in food and beverages. Sucrose (table sugar) is considered the "gold" standard of sweetness and is the most common sweetener used in the food industry. Sweeteners can usually be classified as nutritive or non-nutritive. Nutritional or caloric sweeteners are usually made from fruit, sugar cane and sugar beets and provide an average of 4 calories per gram. Common nutritive sweeteners include sucrose, other simple carbohydrates, liquid sugar, honey, syrup and fruit juice concentrate. Unlike carbohydrates, non-nutritive or high-intensity sweeteners provide sweetness to food but have little or no calorie or blood sugar response in the body when metabolized. Some non-nutritive sweeteners are not metabolized and are excreted by the body unchanged. Other non-nutritive sweeteners can be partially metabolized to a limited extent and their metabolites are readily excreted from the body. Non-nutritive sweeteners can come from plant sources such as rooibos or stevia, or be synthetically produced such as acesulfame, aspartame, sucralose, or saccharin. Synthetic non-nutritive sweeteners are also known as artificial sweeteners.
Sugar alcohols can be classified in the nutritional sweeteners group because they technically provide similar calories and taste to sucrose. However, they deserve their own discussion because their caloric values are reduced by 0.2 to 3 kcal/g. Unlike nutritive sweeteners, they require little or no insulin synthesis for digestion, and they are non-cariogenic. Unlike nutritional sweeteners, some sugar alcohols (e.g., mannitol and sorbitol) have a laxative effect when consumed in excess. Sugar alcohols are derivatives of monosaccharides, disaccharides and other oligosaccharides that can be found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. Because they can be sweetened with fewer calories, they are commonly used as bulk sweeteners in some foods. Other products that use sugar alcohols include mouthwash, toothpaste, mints, chewing gum and special foods for diabetics.
Purpose of Adding Sugars
The term "added sugar" is defined as "sugar added during food processing or packaged as is, including sugars (free monosaccharides and disaccharides), syrups, and natural sugars isolated from foods. A complete food and concentrated so that sugar is the main ingredient (e.g. fruit juice concentrate) and other caloric sweeteners". In other words, nutritional sweeteners added during food processing are considered added sugars. Names of added sugars include brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, glucose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, conversion sugar, lactose, maltose, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, seaweed sugar, and sucrose. Sugar alcohols are not considered as added sugars.
Functional properties of sugar
Sugar (sucrose) has a variety of functional properties in food products, and to date, no other sweetener has been discovered or developed to replicate all or even many of these functional properties. These functional properties arise from the sensory and physical properties of sugar, as well as from its many reactions and interactions with other food ingredients. Understanding the role of sugar in foods is an important consideration when reducing or removing sugar from products.
Sweetness, flavor enhancement and flavor balance
The most significant role of sugar in food is its sweetness. Sweetness is both a sensory cue to energy and a source of pleasure. Sweetness is one of the few innate tastes, and it is thought that a preference for sweetness evolved to ensure that animals and humans choose foods that are high in calories and non-toxic. During infancy, a high preference for sweetness may have ensured the acceptance of nature's first food, breast milk. Human breast milk naturally contains 2.12 grams of sugar per 1 fluid ounce. Thus, these taste mechanisms clearly have a significant impact on survival.
Sweetness improves the palatability of food. Therefore, adding sugar to foods of high nutritional quality may increase their chances of being consumed. Chocolate milk is an example of increasing the palatability of milk for children, which provides important nutrients, especially calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. The sweetness of sugar may also improve the palatability of foods for older adults by compensating for the loss of chemosensory sensation experienced by older adults.
In foods, sugar plays an important and unique role in influencing flavor characteristics by interacting with other components to enhance or diminish certain flavors. The addition of sugar enhances flavor by adding flavor aroma. Flavor aroma has no flavor characteristics, but once combined with sugar, the sweetness of the sugar and the flavor aroma act synergistically. For example, if a peach aroma is added to an unsweetened solution, the solution will have no flavor, but when sugar is added to the solution, the sweetness and peach flavor can be perceived. Small amounts of sugar can be added to cooked vegetables and meats to enhance the natural flavors of foods without making them taste sweet. Added sugar can also balance the sweetness and acidity of fruit products such as beverages, sauces and preserves. In low-fat ice cream, sugar is added to balance the flavor, and the sweetness of the sugar balances the bitterness of the cocoa in the chocolate.
In addition to sweetening foods, the sweetness of sugar can aid in the palatability of medications to ensure patient compliance. Due to its low toxicity, high purity and diverse physicochemical properties, sugar also provides other desired functional properties of drugs. It can be used as an excipient to introduce the active ingredient of a drug into the body. The correct formulation of the excipient (sugar) and the active ingredient in the drug provides the exact delivery of the desired dose and controls the release of the active ingredient to the target site in the body. In glucose tablets, glucose (d-glucose) is the main ingredient, and they are used by diabetics to rapidly raise blood glucose levels in the event of discomfort or hypoglycemia. Given the desirable functional properties of sugar, there are always opportunities to develop sugar-based products in the pharmaceutical industry.