Is sugar bad? Or, is sugar good? And what about sugar alternatives? This can be an internal debate if you're trying to be health-conscious. Luckily, we have answers. Find out the sugar facts.
So, What’s the Deal with Sugar?
With so many different diet trends out there, it can be difficult to separate fact from fad, and truth from what’s in fashion. The truth is, sugar is a molecule that is absolutely necessary to keep our bodies functioning properly.
Does this mean that you should funnel a bunch of sugar, right now, in your mouth, like a backward peds dispenser? No. No, it does not. Actually, the best way to consume sugar is to eat natural products with naturally occurring sugars, like fruit and vegetables. And guess what? From bread to rice, and cucumbers to mushrooms, nearly everything you eat gets broken down by your body into sugar or, more specifically, glucose.
Understanding the Two Types of Sugar
Most of the food you consume will contain both monosaccharides and disaccharides. In straightforward English, this translates to, simple sugars and double sugars. Complex sugars are made up of simple sugars and they are eventually broken down for energy.
Simple Sugars (Monosaccharides)
Simple sugars are small enough to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
Glucose in the blood, (i.e. “blood sugar”), is the primary source of energy for the body. Most of the carbohydrates that we ingest become glucose. You can consider this, “good sugar."
Fructose is absorbed through the intestine/liver. But, the liver can absorb and store only a certain amount. If there is too much fructose consumed it can result in increased fat formation.
Galactose is found mostly in milk or dairy products. It is not an essential nutrient. This means that you do not need galactose to maintain the functions of your body. While glucose is absolutely necessary, galactose is not.
Complex Sugars (Disaccharides)
Complex sugars contain two molecules of sugar, linked together. They are broken down in the body into single sugars. There are three types.
Sucrose (table sugar) = glucose + fructose
Lactose (milk sugar) = glucose + galactose
Maltose (malt sugar) = glucose + glucose
Natural Sugars vs Added Sugars
Natural sugars are found in dairy products, fruit, vegetables, and 100% fruit and vegetable juices. Added sugars are found in dairy-based desserts (ice cream), grain-based desserts (brownies, cakes, cookies, etc), energy drinks, flavored waters, soft drinks, candies, jams, and syrups.
What Are My Sugar Options?
If you're cutting back on processed sugar in your diet, but you still want to enhance the flavor of your food, you might consider using alternatives to process sugar. Take heed, because not all alternatives are alike, or particularly the most healthy option. As trends shift, some processed sugar alternatives claim the spotlight more than others.
Popular Alternatives to Table Sugar
A Sweet Summary of Sugar
To sum it up: Sugar is important in maintaining the proper functions of the human body. Sugar can be consumed through foods and beverages, and are either natural or added/processed. Nearly everything you consume, such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, are broken down into glucose, which is then made into energy. Too much fructose can lead to an increase in body fat.
Chef teamed up with The American Diabetes Association to provide you with meals that are well-balanced.
Do you feel more knowledgeable about sugar? This is just a glimpse of the information that is available. For more information, visit the Food and Drug Administration website.
Feel free to also reach out here with your questions and comments.