Granulated sugar, also called refined sugar, is the most common type of table sugar. It is made from either sugar cane (cane sugar) or sugar beets (beet sugar). Sugar beets have only been a major source of sugar since the middle of the nineteenth century, but sugar cane has been cultivated for over ten thousand years in Melanasia and Polynesia. Two thousand years later it was also introduced in India and Persia.
From Wikipedia: “Sugar is the generalized name for sweet, short-chain, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. They are composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. ... Simple sugars are called monosaccharides and include glucose (also known as dextrose), fructose, and galactose. The table or granulated sugar most customarily used as food is sucrose, a disaccharide. (In the body, sucrose hydrolyses into fructose and glucose.) ... Chemically-different substances may also have a sweet taste, but are not classified as sugars. Some are used as lower-calorie food substitutes for sugar described as artificial sweeteners. ... The world produced about 168 million tonnes of sugar in 2011. The average person consumes about 24 kilograms (53 lb) of sugar each year (33.1 kg in industrialised countries), equivalent to over 260 food calories per person, per day.”
Information about forms and uses:
- “Brown sugars are granulated sugars, either containing residual molasses, or with the grains deliberately coated with molasses to produce a light- or dark-colored sugar. They are used in baked goods, confectionery, and toffees.
- Granulated sugars are used at the table, to sprinkle on foods and to sweeten hot drinks, and in home baking to add sweetness and texture to cooked products. They are also used as a preservative to prevent micro-organisms from growing and perishable food from spoiling, as in candied fruits, jams, and marmalades.
- Invert sugars and syrups are blended to manufacturers specifications and are used in breads, cakes, and beverages for adjusting sweetness, aiding moisture retention and avoiding crystallization of sugars.
- Liquid sugars are strong syrups consisting of 67% granulated sugar dissolved in water. They are used in the food processing of a wide range of products including beverages, hard candy, ice cream, and jams.
- Low-calorie sugars and sweeteners are often made of maltodextrin with added sweeteners. Maltodextrin is an easily digestible synthetic polysaccharide consisting of short chains of glucose molecules and is made by the partial hydrolysis of starch. The added sweeteners are often aspartame, saccharin, stevia, or sucralose.”
Additional types of sugars include milled sugars, molasses, polyols, screened sugars, sugar cubes, syrups and treacles, and fruit sugars for winemaking. See link above for more information.
Diabetes mellitus and sugar consumption:
“Since the latter part of the twentieth century, it has been questioned whether a diet high in sugars, especially refined sugars, is good for human health. Sugar has been linked to obesity, and suspected of, or fully implicated as a cause in the occurrence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, macular degeneration, and tooth decay. Numerous studies have been undertaken to try to clarify the position, but with varying results, mainly because of the difficulty of finding populations for use as controls that do not consume or are largely free of any sugar consumption.”
From "en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caramel": “The process of caramelization consists of heating sugar slowly to around 340 °F (170 °C). As the sugar heats, the molecules break down and re-form into compounds with a characteristic color and flavor. A variety of candies, desserts, and confections are made with caramel: brittles, nougats, pralines, crème brûlée, crème caramel, and caramel apples. Ice creams sometimes are flavored with or contain swirls of caramel.”