What Is Sucrose

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Sucrose is a pleasant tasting substance that contributes most of the sweetness in our diet. It has played a role in human diets ever since primates began evolving on a diet of fruit and berries in the tropical forests of Africa 50 million years ago. Sucrose is chemically classified as a carbohydrate and a simple sugar, specifically a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose (Figure 1). Its proper scientific name is /3-D-fructofuranosyl-a-D-glucopyranoside. The natural sweetness of fruit and honey comes from mixtures of sucrose, glucose, and fructose. The mild sweetness of milk comes from another disaccharide, lactose, composed of glucose and galactose.

Because sweetness comes from a mixture of sugars (not just sucrose) in many sources, we use different terms to define the original source, e.g., naturally occurring sugars, refined sugars, added sugars, concentrated sugars, intrinsic sugars, and extrinsic sugars. Refined sucrose is also known as table sugar, cane sugar, or beet sugar. Unfortunately, the term 'sugar' means different things to different people, and the literature can be confusing. In this article, as in everyday language, the word 'sugar' refers to refined sucrose, unless otherwise indicated.

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