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noun, plural: sugars

(1) Any monosaccharide or disaccharide, used especially by organisms to store energy

(2) Any sweet, crystalline solid disaccharide used as sweetener or preservative


The term sugar is the generic term for any disaccharides and monosaccharides. Sugars are essential structural component of living cells and source of energy in many organisms. Sugars are classified based on the number of monomeric units present.

Monosaccharides include fructose, galactose, and glucose. Fructose is also called fruit sugar. It naturally occurs in fruits, cane sugar, and honey. It is the sweetest among the sugars. Galactose is another simple sugar but is seen often bound to another molecule. Glucose is the most common form of simple sugar in the body as it is essential in various cellular activities such as cell respiration. In plants, glucose is the primary product of photosynthesis. These monosaccharides are the simplest forms of carbohydrates. They serve as the monomers that join together to form a rather complex carbohydrate, e.g. disaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides.

Disaccharides are carbohydrates consisting of two monosaccharides. Examples are lactose, maltose, and sucrose. The table sugar is sucrose, which is a disaccharide made up of glucose and fructose. It is used commonly as a sweetener. It is used in beverages and food preparation, such as cake and cookies. The common sources of sugar for commercial use are sugarcane and sugar beet. These plants are harvested to make refined sugar. Excessive consumption of sugar is linked to diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, and cardiovascular diseases.

Word origin: from the Arabic and Persian ‘’shaker’’

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