07 Feb Unraveling Natural vs. Added Sugar
Most folks refer to this category as natural sugars. Here comes the science….Natural sugars can be categorized as single (“mono”) and double (“di”) sugars. The body can absorb sugar in its single or “mono” form. The double or “di” sugar needs to be cut into 2 pieces (or digested) in order to be absorbed.
- Glucose: Also called dextrose. It’s the primary energy source your body uses.
- Fructose: It’s found in fruit and honey. It’s the sweetest of all natural sugars.
- Galactose: It’s the building block of milk (or milk sugar).
- Sucrose: It’s the combo of glucose + fructose which is commonly known as table sugar or granulated sugar.
- Maltose: It’s the combo of glucose + glucose. It’s pretty abundant in sprouting seeds and is produced when making beer.
- Lactose: It’s the combo of glucose + galactose and is found in milk products like yogurt, cheese, and milk. Some folks lack the enzyme lactase that breaks the double sugar into their single components (that’s why they get bloating and gas).
It’s important to remember fruit and dairy products provide us with a ton of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that our bodies need.
These include white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and other sweeteners that are added by food manufacturers into packaged goodies. They go into foods like soda, energy drinks, salad dressings, cakes, and reduced fat peanut butter. The majority of added sugars doesn’t supply any nutritional value and are considered empty calories. Americans end up eating way too many calories from foods with added sugar. This inevitably leads to obesity, especially if you’re a coach potato.
The recommendations for added sugar (not natural sugar) are 9 teaspoons per day for men and 6 for women. That’s equivalent to 36 grams of added sugar per day for men and 24 grams for women.
Trying to read a nutrition facts panel can make your head spin, especially when you’re trying to figure out the amount of added sugar. The nutrition label gives you the grams of sugar, but it combines natural and added sugar.
Take flavored yogurt, for example, it contains lactose (the natural sugar from milk) and food companies add sugar to sweeten it. The yogurt containing natural sugars (lactose) also has nutrients like calcium, riboflavin, and vitamin B12 while the added sugar has no other added value.
What’s A Consumer To Do?
Keep reading the food labels, but if you want to know if sugar was added check the ingredient list. You’ll see the any of the following words: sugar, high fructose corn syrup, dehydrated cane juice, maltodextrin, and other such funky terms. The closer the word is to the beginning of the ingredient list, the more of it is used (by weight).
LET’S DISCUSS: Do you think all sugar is bad? How do you control your added sugar?