Functional properties of sugar

Sugary soft drinks are the leading source of added sugars in the United States; cakes, cookies, pies and other baked goods comes next, sweetened fruit drinks and punches follow closely behind.

Primary functional properties of sugars include sweetener activity, activity as a flavor enhancer and sustainer, antioxidant and preservative, and interaction with water to affect water activity.

Instead of being used for their sweetening properties, sometimes specific sugars are used as bulking agents or carriers for other ingredients, especially the sugars that are less sweet than sucrose.

Sugar acts as synergist and gives balance to flavor. Manufacturers have found that blending different low-calories sweeteners, sometimes with sugar, can lead to a better product taste profile.

In beverages, properties of sweetness and flavor are important. Sweet taste serves as a sensory cue for energy as well as a source of pleasure. Sweetness is one of a few tastes which are innate, and it has been argued that a preference for sweet taste evolved to ensure that animals and humans chose foods that are high in calories and nontoxic.

Sucrose, glucose and fructose are the most common sweeteners in nature. glucose is always less sweet than sucrose, whereas the sweetness of fructose is highly dependent on temperature.

Sweetness improves the palatability of food. Thus, adding sugar to foods with high nutrient quality may increase the chance that they are consumed.

In addition to main function of sugars as sweetness, they also have others roles in food industry such as preservation, antioxidants, enhance the color, flavor, mouthfeel and texture.

By absorbing free water and increasing osmotic pressure, sugar reduces water activity in a food system (e.g. jam), resulting in reduced microbial and mold growth as well as extending the storage life of food.
Functional properties of sugar

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