Sucrose is a popular ingredient in many processed foods, especially baked goods and drinks. It is often used in place of high fructose corn syrup, and, in some cases, in combination with high fructose corn syrup. Sucrose syrup is a natural product. When consumed in excess, it can lead to health risks including certain disorders and obesity.
Sucrose is often referred to as table sugar. It is made from the simpler sugars glucose (dextrose) and fructose. It occurs naturally in vegetables and fruits. For commercial use it is taken from the sugar cane or sugar beet during processing.
The processes for separating the natural sugar from the cane stalk and beet root differ slightly. Sugar canes are pressed to extract juice. The juice contains the sugar. When the juice is boiled, it thickens, and the sugar begins to crystallize. The sugar crystals are spun to remove liquid, refined and filtered and dried before packaging. The process for refining beet sugar is much the same except the crystals are not spun.
Creating Sucrose Syrup
Crystal sugar is combined with water and heat to create sucrose syrup. Equal amounts of sucrose and water, along with a pinch of cream of tarter, are boiled until the sucrose is dissolved. The cream of tarter is an acetic acid which acts as a catalyst in the division of sucrose into glucose and fructose. The resulting syrup contains 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose. Sucrose syrup is an invert syrup because it is broken down into its simple components. Sucrose is sweeter than glucose and less sweet than fructose. When sucrose is turned into an invert syrup, the end product is sweeter than the sucrose before cooking.
Aside from sweetening, sucrose syrup serves other purposes as well. It has hygroscopic properties, meaning it attracts and retains moisture. Products made with sucrose syrup stay moist longer than products containing other sweeteners. Sucrose syrup is a popular ingredient in baked goods. It increases the sweetness and is more soluble.
Although natural, sucrose syrup has been linked to health issues. dangers associated with sucrose syrup are outlined in "The Murky World of High-Fructose Corn Syrup," written by Linda Forristal for the fall 2001 issue of Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation. She cites a study in which a group of rats fed high amounts of fructose developed anemia, heart hypertrophy and high cholesterol. Other negative effects included delayed testicular development and interference with the production of collagen. The female rats in the study were unable to produce live offspring. Fructose is metabolized in the liver. The livers of the rats fed fructose resembled livers of alcoholics. All the rats were nutrient- and copper-deficient. Forristal says many people in the United States have a copper deficiency. Even more disturbing, sucrose syrup and its ingredients, glucose and fructose, are in many products specifically marketed for children.