What is Sugar? Sucrose
Asking, what is sugar, is a complicated question we’ll go over here.
What is sugar – Sucrose is known as table sugar and sometimes called saccharose. A white crystalline powder with a sweet taste. Sucrose is a disaccharide (two sugar molecule) composed of glucose and fructose. That is important because glucose and fructose are equally distributed in the Sucrose molecule, and Sucrose is broken down to its two components, in the intestines, by an enzyme called Sucrase.
What is sugar – Glucose is a simple sugar also known as D-glucose, dextrose, or grape sugar and is a simple sugar or monosaccharide( single sugar ). Glucose is the primary source of energy for our body. Glucose is one of the main products of photosynthesis by plants and starts cellular respiration by animals. It is created when sucrose or starch is broken down in our intestines.
What Is Sugar? Glucose
What is sugar – Fructose or fruit sugar is a simple monosaccharide found in many fruits and plants. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose( broken down from milk or lactose), that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion.
Fructose is produced commercially from sugar cane, sugar beets and corn. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a mixture of glucose and fructose as monosaccharides often 60% fructose, and 40% glucose. Sucrose is equally broken down to glucose and fructose (50%).
The primary reason that fructose is used commercially in foods and beverages is its easily available, low cost, and it is the sweetest of all naturally occurring carbohydrates. In our question of what is sugar, fructose is dangerous to health.
What Is Sugar? Fructose
What is sugar – Fructose. Some of the fructose is actually free, instead of being bound to glucose making a sucrose or table sugar molecule. Foods that have a lot of free fructose, some twice as much as table sugar includes pears and red apples.
Excess fructose consumption has been shown to increase triglycerides, VLDL, LDL cholesterol, and serum glucose levels. It has been associated with Type 2 Diabetes ,insulin resistance, hypertension, gout and obesity, and is strongly associated with the development of the Metabolic Syndrome and Heart Disease.
The type of fat we see develop with fructose consumption is central obesity or visceral fat. This type of fat is the most dangerous kind of obesity because it is linked with heart disease and heart attacks.
In our question of what is sugar, these simple sugars, glucose, galactose, fructose have nearly identical chemical arrangements with very distinct chemical properties. One of the mechanisms for heart disease and fructose consumption might be that fructose will sky-rocket the dangerous coronary artery causing triacylglycerol levels compared to glucose.
Later I will discuss the dangers of fructose metabolism and how a carbohydrate, which is metabolized like a fat, is in fact a dangerous toxin.
What is sugar – Lactose or milk sugar is a disaccharide sugar( made up of two sugar molecules) that is found most notably in milk. With milk consumption, lactose is broken down in the intestines to the sugars galactose and glucose. Glucose as we have discussed before, is a primary energy source for the body and galactose is broken down to glucose via the Leloir Pathway.
So all the carbohydrates from milk, which includes sugar enhanced low fat milk , count as carbohydrates when we measure total carbohydrate intake of 20 grams a day. Whole milk has about 12 grams of carbohydrates, 11 of which is sugar.
What is sugar – Maltose or malt sugar, is a disaccharide formed from two units of glucose. Maltose is the disaccharide produced when amylase, a digestive enzyme produced by the pancreas, breaks down starchy foods. Maltose is also made from germinating cereals, such as barley. Barley and Hops are important in the beer brewing process.
This carbohydrate is included in determining how many grams of carbohydrates you eat and is tied into starchy potatoes, breads, and grains.
MALTOSE OR MALT SUGAR
When we ask, what is sugar, it is ribose that is a monosaccharide or a simple sugar. Although ribose is essential for energy production, our body does not recognize it as a fuel, so it actually has no caloric value, and thus consuming ribose does not add to the carbohydrate count.
Ribose comprises the backbone of RNA, critical in genetic transcription of proteins. Once ribose is activated(phosphorylated) it can enter the cells and become part of the ATP molecule( primary source of energy for our body) as well as in compounds critical for metabolism. I put ribose in my coffee, instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Ribose has been used extensively in endurance training, being used in the Tour De France by Lance Armstrong. As a cardiac surgeon performing Coronary Artery Bypass surgery off-pump, or without the bypass machine, I used ribose before and after surgery to help the heart recover from the surgical procedure. It worked amazingly well in restoring heart function.
So as you can see, asking what is sugar requires a lengthy answer!