Who said sugar is added to foods just to make it sweet? Here are some more reasons to cherish it.
The University of Minnesota researchers have explained the five functional properties of sugar.
The first one is taste. Sugar's sweetness improves the palatability of many foods. Adding sugar to foods with high nutrient quality may increase the chance they are consumed.
Additionally, sugar plays an important role in contributing to the flavor profile of foods by interacting with other ingredients to enhance or lessen certain flavors.
The second property of sugar is the color and flavor. The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned foods their desirable flavor and caramelisation is fundamental to the formation of color in several food products and can't happen without the addition of sugar.
Additionally, the Maillard reaction also provides desirable flavor formation in foods such as baked goods, chocolate, coffee and meat.
The third property is the bulk and texture of sugar, as it provides bulk to foods which impacts the mouthfeel and texture. Sugar affects multiple chemical reactions that form the texture of baked goods, ice cream, candies, and jams, preserves and jellies.
The fourth property is the fermentation, which is a process in which microorganisms in the absence of oxygen generate energy by oxidizing carbohydrates, like sugar. Sugar aids in the fermentation of many common food and beverage products produced including yogurt, vinegar, sour cream, wine, beer, bread, cheese, soy sauce, and sauerkraut.
The last one is preservation. The hygroscopic nature of sugar plays a crucial role in reducing water activity in foods. Sugar also prevents baked goods from becoming dry or stale and it also preserves the color of frozen fruits and jellies.
The study is published in the journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety.