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Frequently asked questions

How does sugar beet grow?

The sugar beet is a part of the sugar beet plant. The sugar beet plant consists of green leaves and a large root. In the summertime, the leaves use the air, water and sunlight to produce food, namely sugar. This sugar is stored as energy reserve in the root, which grows nicely during the summer. These roots, the beets, are subsequently harvested in autumn for the production of sugar.

Can sugar be extracted from other crops as well?

Through the centuries, people have tried to extract sugar from all sorts of crops. In addition to sugar cane and maple – the two best-known alternatives to sugar beet – people tried to extract sugar from grapes, wheat, corn, potatoes, walnuts, hogweed, cabbage, palm trees, carrots and liquorice. But they finally realized that no other crop has the same high yield of sugar as sugar beet.

Is there a difference between cane sugar and beet sugar?

Sugar is extracted from sugar cane and sugar beet. Sugar cane stores the sugar in the stalk, sugar beet in the root. The nutritional value of both types of sugar is exactly the same, therefore the difference is in the growth habit. As for dental caries, cane sugar is not less cariogenic than beet sugar. Sugar cane only grows in tropical countries. Therefore, in our country no sugar is made from sugar cane, only from sugar beet.

What (special) properties does sugar have?

Sugar is more than just sweet. For instance, sugar intensifies the flavour of fruit and vegetables and is used as a preservative, for example in jam. And thanks to the sugar in it, ice cream stays nice and soft. The more sugar is added to ice cream, the slower it freezes and the softer the ice cream is. Not only ice cream, but also chocolate melts nicely in your mouth because of the sugar in it. Furthermore, sugar easily and quickly absorbs moisture. A bit of sugar in the biscuit tin keeps biscuits fresh for longer. And one spoon of sugar in the water extends the vase life of cut flowers. The flowers use the sugar to grow.

What is the nutritional value of sugar?

Sugar, just like all other carbohydrates, provides 4 kcal (= 17 KJ) per gram. Carbohydrates are an important source of energy, which we need for our daily activities. The carbohydrates that we eat can be used right away or temporarily be stored (for instance in muscle tissue in the form of glycogen) and used as energy source at a later stage.

Is sugar fattening?
Many times, sugar is labelled as 'fattening'. However, you only gain too much weight when not all energy is actually used. Energy is mainly used during physical activity. It does not matter where this excess energy comes from, whether from carbohydrates (including sugar) or proteins and/or fat. Sugar in itself therefore does not make you (too) fat. For a healthy body weight, it is important to take part in regular physical activity and follow a healthy and varied diet.


Does sugar fit in a healthy diet?

Sometimes people say that sugar is 'not healthy' and does not fit in a sensible diet. However, there is no food that is bad for you, only bad eating habits. Therefore, anything may be included in a healthy diet, including sugar and products that contain sugar. It is about the right choice and right amount of food, combining and varying the different types of food. It is important, for instance, to eat enough vegetables, fruit and whole-grain products and drink at least one and a half litre of fluids each day. Sugar therefore fits well in a healthy diet.


How can you know if a product contains sugar?

On all packaged food and drinks, an ingredient declaration is included. This declaration lists, in descending order of their amount, the ingredients used in the preparation of the product. If granulated sugar has been used, the ingredient declaration mentions 'sugar' or 'granulated sugar'. A pack of granulated sugar from the store contains 100% of sugar and does not have an ingredient declaration because the product only has one ingredient.

If cane sugar has been used, many times 'cane sugar' is mentioned instead of 'sugar'; however, the latter is also permitted. Furthermore, glucose syrup, fructose, glucose, milk sugar (lactose), among others, also belong to the group of sugars.


What is 'blood sugar disease'?

Blood sugar disease is generally known as diabetes mellitus. Many people think that diabetes is caused by eating sugar and that people with diabetes should not eat sugar. This is a myth.The name 'blood sugar disease' is probably derived from the high glucose concentrations in the blood, also called 'blood sugar'. The name 'blood sugar disease' is confusing however, and evokes undeserved prejudices and wrong (eating) habits. The Dutch diabetes organisations share this opinion and try to eliminate the use of this name.


Can people with diabetes eat sugar?

Sure they can! To people with diabetes (diabetics), the same guidelines for a healthy diet apply as to the general population: the Guidelines for a Healthy Diet of the Health Council of the Netherlands. These guidelines allow the consumption of carbohydrates, including sugar. However, carbohydrates should be spread evenly throughout the day to minimize the pressure on the metabolism. In the past, the advice was to eat a sugar-free diet, but since the nineties, this advice no longer applies. Nevertheless, many people still think that diabetics should eat 'sugar-free'. Depending on the type of diabetes, medication or insulin injections may be required to treat the disease. Furthermore, in the context of the prevention of diabetes (especially type 2), it is important to avoid overweight and it is advised to ensure sufficient physical activity.


Does sugar cause dental caries?

Cavities occur when bacteria in your mouth (which attach themselves to the teeth in the form of plaque) convert sugars from all sorts of foods into acid. As a result of this 'acid attack', the mineral of teeth dissolves. Teeth have a natural defence mechanism against such acid attacks and can recover from them, but if this balance is disturbed, for instance by eating or drinking often in between meals, cavities may occur in time.

Sugars (for instance granulated sugar but also fruit sugars!) in themselves do not cause caries. The presence of dental plaque and bacteria is required as well.

To avoid cavities as much as possible, first of all it is important to carefully brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Brushing removes the dental plaque – and therefore the bacteria – and also strengthens the enamel. Furthermore, it is important to limit the intake of food and/or drink to seven times a day at most, which means preferably three main meals and four snacks. This way, your teeth are given enough time to recover from the acid attack.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us.