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Sugar (IPA: /ˈʃʊgə/, Play (info • help)) is the common name for a number of chemical substances that have a sweet taste. Most of the time, it refers to either sucrose, lactose, or fructose. Sugar is contained in certain kinds of food, or it is added to give a sweet taste. Sugar is extracted from certain plants, such as sugarcane or Sugar beet.
Regular sugar (the one commonly added to food) is called sucrose. Fructose is the sugar that is in fruits. As chemicals, sucrose and fructose are both made by two smaller sugars. Glucose is the more common of these smaller sugars. The human body changes regular sugar into the smaller sugars.
Scientists call sugars carbohydrates. This is because sugars are made from carbon and water. Hydro- or -hydrate is a way to say "contains water." Carbohydrates can be simple carbohydrates or complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are made of only one or a few of the smallest sugars. Complex carbohydrates are made of many of the smallest sugars.
Starch is a chemical found in foods such as bread, crackers, and potatoes. It is a complex carbohydrate that is made from many, many glucoses. Starch is the way non-scientists say complex carbohydrates. When starch is eaten, the human body breaks it apart into smaller sugars. This starts in the mouth. When one holds a food with starch in their mouth for a few minutes, it starts to taste sweet. This is because the starch is broken into smaller sugars that taste sweet.
There are other chemical substances that can be used to produce a sweet taste, but that are not sugar. One of them, commonly called Stevia is gained from a plant with the same name. Others, like Aspartame are completely synthetic. In general, these substances are known as artificial sweeteners, or sugar substitutes.
Sugar is not the only substance that makes food sweet. Artificial sweeteners are often used to replace sugar in different types of food.
Sugar can be different colours. For example, there is such thing as brown sugar, which is often used in baking.
- "IUPAC Gold Book - sugars". Goldbook.iupac.org. 2009-09-07. http://goldbook.iupac.org/S06088.html. Retrieved 2009-12-20.
- International sugar statistics http://www.illovosugar.com/World_of_sugar/Sugar_Statistics/International.aspx