Sugar, the irresistible passion of the sweet-toothed, offers heaps of interesting statistics: here are 9 facts about sugar to help you get to know it better
Fructose, or fruit sugar, is 1.5 times sweeter than sucrose. It is no coincidence that the sweeter varieties of fruit have a greater fructose/glucose ratio (let’s remember that glucose is a component of sucrose). In bananas, for instance, the ratio is 1:0, while in figs it is 0:9. Surprisingly, carrots also have a 1:0 ratio, but in the sweet red pepper, the ratio is as high as 1:2. The more “scientific” chefs bear these values in mind when they dose ingredients and various combinations.
There are2 main types of sugar in the world: beet sugar and cane sugar. Both, however, may be consumed unrefined or refined, the latter being white in colour. The refining process is very complex and consists in separating the crystals from the molasses. The latter is a precious by-product since it is used to make rum. Sugar purity is measured in ICUMSA: the lower its value, the purer the sugar is. Generally, white sugar has an ICUMSA value of 300, while that of raw sugar is around 1500.
25 grams is the maximum daily dose of sugar recommended by the World Health Organization. It corresponds, more or less, to six teaspoons. Obviously, this dose also comprises the sugar contained in many products. A canned soft drink, for instance, can contain as much as 40 grams of sugar, but some beverages even total 70 grams.
220 grams is the quantity of confectioners’ sugar required to prepare delicious French-style meringues. Then you need the whites of three eggs at room temperature and half a lemon. Add half of the sugar and a few drops of lemon to the egg whites and whisk until stiff. Then, gradually incorporate the rest of the sugar. Fill a piping bag and squeeze out the creamy mixture into shell-like shapes onto a sheet of baking paper. Pop into the oven at 80°C and bake for one hour and a half.
300 times sweeter than sugar: we refer to the Siraitia Grosvenorii, also known as the monk fruit. It is a fruit used in China as a diet sweetener, particularly in soft drinks and beverages. Officially discovered in 1930 by an expedition organized by Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor, the then-President of the National Geographic Society, the plant is native to South China.
387 kilocalories are contained in 100 grams of sugar. This figure refers to sucrose, the most common form of table sugar. It is a disaccharide composed of one molecule of glucose and one of fructose. Obviously, 100 grams of sugar contain 99.98 grams of carbohydrates (sugars, in other words) and little else, comprising 2 milligrams of potassium, 0.05 milligrams of iron and 0.019 milligrams of vitamin B2. So, you won’t fool anyone if you claim that you eat a lot of sugar to fend off colds.
26,000,000 tons of sugar are consumed every year by India, the country which ranks as the most “sweet-toothed”. The European Union with its 27 member states comes second, with a consumption of 18 million tons. And the third place goes to China (16), followed by Brazil (12), United States (11), Indonesia and Russia (6 each), Pakistan and Mexico (5 each) and Thailand (3).
39,000,000 tons of sugar were produced by Brazil in 2014, this being the country that tops the charts by far. It is followed at a distance by India (26), China (14), Thailand (12), United States (8), Mexico (7), Pakistan (6), Russia (5) and Australia (4).
170,800,000 tons of sugar were consumed worldwide in the 2014-2015 two year period. This was a new record: its consumption in fact has gradually risen since 2009, when it stood at 154.1 million tons. Consumption for the 2015-2016 period is expected to rise to 173.4 million tons.