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Sugar: the preferred sweetener in U.S. homes

Louisiana Cane SugarSugar has been used for hundreds of years to make traditional homemade foods.

Sugar reacts with the protein in food and gives it a rich appetizing color. Sugar caramelizes when heated and the resulting caramel sauce is used in many confections and baking recipes.

Speaking of baking, when the baker’s yeast consumes sugar, it creates the carbon dioxide that makes the dough rise. Cooked vegetables maintain that "fresh-from-the-garden” when a little sugar is added.

What would a New Orleans Café du Monde beignet be without confectioner’s sugar? How about a delicious Italian marinara sauce with a dash of sugar? What? Sugar in a red sauce? It sounds odd to add sugar to spaghetti gravy, but knowledgeable household chefs know a great sauce depends on the tomato's natural sweetness. The sweetness of the tomato is married to the sauce when the tomato is cooked down. Not all tomatoes are created equal – some just aren’t sweet enough, hence a spoonful of sugar improves the recipe.

Making food taste better is a useful role that sweeteners to play in our diets. The most common sweeteners found in food are sucrose (cane/beet sugar), glucose, fructose, maltose and lactose. All of these are good but guess which one is used most often? Sugar.

A 2014 survey by international research firm Mintel asked two questions: 1) Does anyone in your household use sugar substitutes/artificial sweeteners; and 2) Does anyone in your household use white granulated sugar?

More than half of the respondents (53 percent) said they used sugar only; 37 percent used both sugar and sugar substitutes; four percent preferred sugar substitutes while six percent said they used no sugar or sugar substitutes.

Whatever your preference, the fact remains that cane sugar, a product produced by your Louisiana farming neighbors for more than 200 years, is a healthy part of a normal diet.

Carbohydrates, including sugar, are the preferred sources of the body’s fuel for brain power, muscle energy and every natural process that goes on in every functioning cell.

Louisiana SugarcaneSugar is all-natural and is found in nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, but is also a key component in foods as diverse as whole grain breads and cereals, yogurts and tomato sauces.

Cane sugar is only 15 calories per teaspoon and is no more fattening than any other 15 calories. Like all carbohydrates, the body converts sugar into fuel quickly. Fats, on the other hand, are stored in fat cells to be used later.

Louisiana’s sugarcane farmers have always maintained that the key to a healthy lifestyle is as much common sense as scientific. A good diet should include a wide variety of foods that contain a range of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and fats. Consumption should be done in moderation and by choosing reasonable portion sizes.

Sugars are not uniquely fattening, so replacing sugar with other caloric or artificial sweeteners does not equate to a workable solution to weight management. Weight loss occurs by reducing the total amount of calories consumed or increasing caloric burn-off through regular physical activity. Common sense says that a combination of reduced calorie intake and increased calorie burning will be more successful than either single strategy.

So remember, enjoy a balanced diet with moderate portions and maintain an active lifestyle.Louisiana Sugarcane

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