There aren’t many people who can say they don’t like sugar and even though, we all know that too much of it can be a bad thing, who can resist the occasional sugary treat? Sugar, as we know it today, was first called, sweet-salt, and it was a luxury. But now, sugar is considered a necessity and the world produces over 150 million tones of it a year. Here are ten facts about sugar that you probably didn’t know, and not all of them are bad news!
1. Crystallized sugar has been around a long time
People have been crystallizing sugar from sugar cane for at least 2000 years, but the joys of the sweet stuff didn’t come to western shires for some time. When Alexander the Great’s army found sugar in India, they were amazed at how honey could be produced without bees.
2. The sugar from cane and beet is identical
It was a German chemist, Andreas Marggraf, who discovered that the sugar obtained from sugar beet is identical to that obtained from sugar cane. It was this discovery that lead on to the production of sugar in more northern climes.
3. Sugar can be used as rocket fuel
Sugar is the main component of the fuel used in rockets by amateur rocket enthusiasts. If you burn sucrose with some corn syrup and saltpetre, you get sugar propellant, which is used to power small rockets.
4. Sugar hides in many foods
Sugar is added to many different types of food, including savory items. You know you have to cut back on candy, soda and cakes, to reduce your sugar intake, but it is also present in ketchup, processed foods and even bread.
5. Artificial sweeteners were found by accident
Sucralose, now sold in the shops as Splenda, was discovered by scientists trying to create a new insecticide. Apparently, a research assistant who misunderstood his instructions to test the new compound thought he had been told to taste it. He discovered that it tasted sweet.
6. Sugar doesn’t rot your teeth
Tooth decay isn’t caused by sugar, it’s caused by the bacteria that feed off the sugar. These bacteria will actually feed off any carbohydrate, so starchy foods that can get stuck to your teeth can be just as damaging.
7. The sugar pill medicine
Children are sometimes prescribed a sugar pill marketed under the name of ‘Obecalp’, for minor complaints. When a doctor prescribes ‘Obecalp’, a pharmacist knows exactly what to do. Just read the name backwards!
8. You can be genetically addicted to sugar
Having a sweet tooth is not always just an excuse to eat too much candy. Scientists have found that some individuals have genetic variations that affect their production of a hunger hormone called ghrelin, which makes them want to eat more sugar.
9. Too much sugar can affect your memory
Eating sugar can accelerate the aging process of cells and of particular concern is the effect that this has on brain cells. In a study, scientists found that excess consumption of sugar can result in a loss of memory and a reduction in overall mental agility.
10. Sugary drinks are thought to cause around 200,000 deaths a year
A study carried out in 2013 estimated that approximately almost 200,000 deaths, worldwide, can be attributed to people drinking high sugar drinks and soda. Did you know, for example, that a single can of regular cola contains the equivalent of more, than twelve sugar cubes? When it comes to sugar, moderation is the key.
Do you know some other interesting facts about sugar?