Historical Perspective

Sugar cane and sugar beet have a naturally high content of sucrose and have been commercially exploited as a concentrated sources of sucrose since 1600 ad. Sugar cane was first cultivated in Papua New Guinea 10 000 years ago, and the practice spread gradually to Egypt (2300 years ago), Arabia (1300 years ago), and Japan (1100 years ago). Sugar beet was first grown in Europe 500 years ago. Prior to this, refined sucrose was still a rare and expensive commodity and honey was much cheaper. When the industrial revolution began 200 years ago, sucrose consumption increased dramatically, replacing honey as the major source of concentrated sweetness. Intake of refined sucrose peaked in about 1900 and consumption has remained, with minor variations, much the same over the past century. Since 1970 high-fructose corn syrup solids (glucose-fructose syrups made from hydrolyzed corn starch) have partially replaced refined sucrose in manufactured products, particularly in the USA.

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