What is Sugar?
- Simple carbohydrates are generally referred to as sugars. These are monosaccharides (single sugar molecule) and disaccharides (two sugar molecules bound together)
- The three Monosaccharides are: fructose, galactose & glucose.
- Fructose is the sweetest (found in fruits & veggies), also found in high fructose corn syrup.
- Galactose never occurs alone (always paired with glucose to make lactose).
- Glucose is the most abundant sugar in our diet; and is the primary source of energy.
- The three Disaccharides are: lactose, maltose & sucrose.
- Lactose is made of one glucose molecule and one galactose molecule; referred to as milk sugar.
- Maltose is made of two glucose molecules. Maltose molecules join together in food to form starch.
- Sucrose is made of one glucose molecule and one fructose molecule. Found in sugarcane, sugar beets, and honey.
Natural Occurring vs Added Sugar
- Some sugar is found in foods naturally: fruit (fructose) & milk (lactose).
- Natural sugar is good for you since these foods also contain other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
- Added sugars are in the form of sugar or syrup and are added to a food during the processing or preparation stage.
- Food labels do not decipher between natural sugars and added sugars – so it’s your job as a consumer to read ingredients and compare labels between brands. Read on for all the different types of sugar.
- Chemically, added sugars and natural sugars are very similar.
What product do Americans consume the most added sugar from?
- Sweetened Soft Drinks
- Americans drink an average of 40 gallons per person per year
- 12 oz soda = 38.5 g sugar = almost 10 tsp
- 40 gallons soda = 16,420 g sugar = ~267 cups of sugar each year!
What is an Acceptable amount of Sugar in your diet?
- I recommend added sugars be no more than 10% of total energy intake. If you consume 2,000 calories, that would be 200 calories or 50 grams or 13 tsp at most!
What are common types of added sugars?
- Brown Sugar: Highly refined sweetener made of 99% sucrose. Made by adding molasses or burnt table sugar for color and flavor to white table sugar.
- Concentrated fruit juice sweetener: Made with concentrated fruit juice, often pear juice.
- Confectioner’s sugar: Highly refined sweetener, made by finely grinding white sugar with cornstarch (to reduce clumping). Also called powder sugar.
- Corn sweeteners: Used to describe any sugar made with cornstarch.
- Corn syrup: The addition of water to cornstarch in the process of partial hydrolysis to make syrup.
- Dextrose: Glucose
- Fructose: Fruit sugar. Natural monosaccharide that is found in fruits and vegetables.
- Glucose: Most abundant monosaccharide, primary source of energy.
- Granulated sugar: White sugar or table sugar
- High-fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): Corn syrup that was altered by converting some of the sucrose to fructose, making it sweeter than sucrose and normal corn syrup. HFCS contains 42-55% fructose.
- Honey: Sweetener combined of glucose and fructose, made by bees.
- Invert sugar: A very smooth sugar created from heating sucrose with a small amount of acid. This process breaks down the components and reduces the size of the crystals.
- Lactose: A disaccharide made from the monosaccharides glucose and galactose.
- Levulose: Fructose, or fruit sugar.
- Maltose: A disaccharide made from the 2 molecules of the glucose.
- Mannitol: A sugar alcohol.
- Maple sugar: The sugar produced from boiling maple syrup.
- Molasses: Thick brown syrup made of sucrose. It separates out during the processing of raw sugar and is considered the least refined source of sucrose.
- Natural sweeteners: A general term used to describe: sucrose, honey and raw sugar.
- Raw sugar: The result of processing sugar beets or sugarcane, containing ~96-98% sucrose. Include: demerara, muscovado, and turbinado. Real raw sugar is not stable in storage, and must be purified to be edible.
- Sorbitol: A sugar alcohol.
- Turbinado sugar: Purified raw sugar that is safe for human consumption. Sold as “sugar in the raw” in the U.S.
- White sugar: Sucrose, or table sugar.
- Xylitol: A sugar alcohol.
- All sugars (not including sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners) are broken down in the small intestine and eventually converted to glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream.
- Some studies have shown that the different types of sugars have different effects on blood sugar levels.
- Overall, you should limit your consumption of ALL added sugars. And if you do consume some, pair it with protein and fiber to prevent spikes in your blood sugar levels.
- People with diabetes should seek help from an RD for proper meal planning.
More to Come:
- Part II: Artificial Sweeteners & Sugar Alcohols
- Part III: Health Problems Associated with Simple Sugars
- Part IV: Ways to Reduce your Sugar Intake