Sugar is obtained from both cane and beet, but also occurs in most other plants. It is one of the most important purified natural carbohydrates in our diet, with only 16 calories per teaspoon, which is less than a carrot. As an energy source sugar is quickly and easily absorbed by the body. 50-55% of the energy we expend in our daily lives is supplied by carbohydrates and 18% of it by sugar (sucrose), meaning it is one of the body's quickest, most palatable and cheapest sources of energy.
Sugar is one of the most versatile ingredients in food preparation and can be eaten after many years stored under normal atmospheric conditions. With consistent levels of sweetness, no after taste, or unpleasant flavour traces, sugar is the ‘gold standard’ sweetener. The humectant properties of sugar prolong the freshness of baked goods and confectionery, which makes it's preservative effect perfect for contributing to many foods such as jams, marmalades, sweetened condensed milk etc. Sugar is an important bulking medium and provides ‘body’ and an unequalled variety of textures in foods. It can act as an odour fixative, helping to preserve the balance of aroma components of many delicate foodstuffs, and contributes to colour development in many foods such as beer and bread. It also has healing properties, for example when sugar is poured directly into a wound it draws water into a dressing, which accelerates the healing process by starving bacteria of water that it needs to survive.
Inspection of a sugarcane producer in Paraguay