March is National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme is “Celebrating a World of Flavors.” Looking at traditional recipes and the ingredients used across cultures, sugar is an ingredient that can be found in a wide variety of dishes. From sweet to savory, real sugar is used for various functional reasons. Most often we associate sugar with sweetness, but even a little bit of sugar in a recipe (like the pinch in your homemade salsa) acts as a flavor enhancer and balancer. In fact, in a representative sample of consumers, the most often listed ingredient that makes food enjoyable was sugar!


Here is a sampling of recipes from various cultures where even a little bit of sugar goes a long way to bring out the full flavor of each dish:

Thai Chicken Coconut CurryAverie Cooks 
Italian Pasta Sauce The Freshy Cooky
Mexican SalsaDaring Gourmet
French CroissantAll Recipes
Mongolian BeefRasa Malaysia
Southern BBQ SauceThe Spruce Eats

About the Author

Courtney Gaine, Ph.D., R.D., is the President and CEO for the Sugar Association in Washington, D.C. Prior to this appointment in January 2016, Dr. Gaine served as the Vice President of Scientific Affairs at the association. Dr. Gaine previously served as senior science program manager at the North American branch of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI North America), a public, nonprofit scientific foundation that advances the understanding and application of science related to the nutritional quality and safety of the food supply. Prior to ILSI, Dr. Gaine held positions of project director, nutrition and wellness, at the nonprofit organization Convergence and science manager at FoodMinds, a public relations firm. She began her career in academia as an assistant professor at East Carolina University. A native Washingtonian, Dr. Gaine obtained her Ph.D. in nutritional sciences and biochemistry and bachelor’s degree in dietetics from the University of Connecticut, where she was also a co-captain of the UConn women’s basketball team.

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