Sugar is the most common ingredient used today when it comes to adding sweetness to a dish. But, this ingredient has gained bad reputation and it is also believed that it can be as addictive as alcohol. There are different types of sugar out there and they are not created equal. One is added sugar and the other one is natural sugar. Too much sugar is not good for anyone, but is it true that one type of sugar is healthier than the other? Let’s take a look at the difference between added and natural sugar.
Added sugar is any sweetener that is added to foods when they are prepared or processed. This could be granulated white sugar, raw sugar or even corn syrup. The degree of sweetness usually varies and so does the flavor depending on the source of the added sugar. Added sugar is a pure source of carbohydrate and one teaspoon of added sugar can have about 15 calories. When a person consumes large amounts of added sugar, they can put on weight drastically. They will also often have a poor control on their blood sugar levels. The most significant amounts of added sugar can be found in energy drinks, sports drinks, soft drinks, baked goods, ice cream and candy.
There are also sweeteners like honey and molasses which are not as much processed as other sugars. When these sweeteners are consumed in their raw forms, they offer additional health benefits as well. But, it is also important to keep in mind that these sweeteners act the same way as granulated white sugar when it comes to raising the blood sugar levels.
On the other hand, natural sugars can be categorized as single sugars and double sugars. Single sugars are those which can be digested by the body in its single form. Double sugars are those which must be broken down into two pieces before they can be absorbed by the body. Some examples of single sugars include glucose, galactose (milk sugar) and fructose (fruits and honey). Double sugars include sucrose, lactose and maltose. Put simply, natural sugars are part of a whole food such as milk or fruit.
It is essential to limit added sugars in your diet because these sugars do not contain any helpful nutrients and they provide unnecessary calories as well. Whole foods contain natural sugars in addition to protein, water content and fiber which allow them to act differently in your body. They also have a lower glycemic index when compared to added sugars. This means that when you consume natural sugars, the sugar level in your blood does not spike and crash quickly. The sugar is absorbed slowly and steadily.
Natural sugars are better than added sugars because they are healthier. You can imagine the health benefits of eating one cup of unsweetened yogurt as opposed to eating one bar of chocolate. Naturally occurring sugars are not bad for health, but it is important to limit your portion size. Desserts can be made with natural sugars so the next time you crave something sweet, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with foods and desserts that include natural sugars and not added sugars.