sugar cookieIt's addictive, delightful, and maddening all at once. It's been called toxic. It's the arch nemesis of politicians, the one food health gurus can all seem to agree is eeeevil, and like it or not, a staple at any celebration big or small. It's sugar -- the one ingredient it is way too easy to have a love-hate relationship with.

So, in honor of our on-and-off again affair with the sweet stuff, here, 10 facts about sugar you may not know ...

  1. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. The average kid: 32 teaspoons. But women should have no more than 6, while men can have 9.
  2. It's hiding in foods you'd never expect it to be in. Consider the following: Mayo, processed meats, French fries, pasta sauce, salad dressing, etc.
  3. Brown sugar is made up of sugar crystals that have been combined with molasses for taste and color. Confectioner's sugar (or powdered sugar) is white table sugar that has been pulverized into a very fine powder and sifted.
  4. In 327 BC, Alexander the Great discovered the sugar cane. After that, it remained a little known crop in Europe for over a millennium, sugar a rare commodity, and traders of sugar wealthy.
  5. Sugar works like a drug -- it releases an opiate-like substance that activates the brain's reward system.
  6. But you can wean yourself off of it.
  7. Over the last 20 years, sugar consumption in the U.S. has increased from 26 pounds to 135 pounds of sugar per person per year. Whoa.
  8. In 2001, scientists found the presence of sugar in space!
  9. Vegans may opt to buy vegan cane sugar as opposed to regular, because cane sugar may be filtered through activated carbon (charcoal) which may be of animal, vegetable, or mineral origin. Over half of the cane refineries int he U.S. use bone char (charcoal made from animal bones) as their activated carbon source. Hence why vegans would prefer to buy a product that is guaranteed to not have been filtered that way. 
  10. Sugar’s name originated from the Sanskrit word “Sharkara,” which means “gravel" or "sand."

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What's another little-known fact about sugar?

 

 

Image via Steven Depolo/Flickr