Many of us have a love-hate relationship with sugar. It can be hard to avoid, but it can also impact our daily health. Although we know sugar is bad for us, we do not always recognize how many types of sugar there are and how much we eat.
Sugar exists in several forms, which are found in all kinds of foods. From granulated sugar and confectioners sugar to sugar cane, sweeteners, fruit sugar, and table sugar — there’s a lot to discuss.
Fortunately, knowing the different types of sugar, how they affect you, and how to recognize them can help you make more informed choices about what you eat.
What Are the Different Types of Sugar?
White refined sugar is used for baking, sweetening processed foods, and even topping some of our favorite foods. In short, sugar is everywhere. But, sugar is not just reduced to the granulated white sugar sitting in everyone’s cabinet.
If you take a stroll down the baking aisle at a grocery store, you will see shelves full of many different types of sugar. Most of those sugars are added to our daily foods and some can affect our health.
Sweet foods almost always contain either natural sugar or added sugars. Natural sugars are, as they sound, found naturally in certain foods. Most often, natural sugars are found in fruits or milk and the products that contain them.
Added sugars, of course, are added to foods during the manufacturing process. These sugars are found in a large number of common foods and beverages, including bread, candy, granola bars, sodas, and even some dairy products (like yogurt and ice cream). Added sugars have become a large part of our daily diets, whether we realize it or not.
What Are the Types of Added Sugars?
It is much more important to be cautious about added sugars because they are snuck into so many foods at such high amounts. Added sugars are found in many forms and have a long list of different ways they are listed on an ingredients list. Therefore, it is crucial that you know what to look for so you can better know and understand how your foods are sweetened.
Granulated white sugars are commonly found in household cabinets. These sugars are used primarily in baking, and different types serve different functions. They are more refined than other sugars, as their granules are broken down into the purest form, free of molasses or other ingredients. White sugars vary mostly in the size of each crystal and the overall texture.
Different white sugars may be used to add to the presentation and texture of baked goods. Types of white sugars include:
- Cane sugar
- Coconut sugar
- Confectioners or powdered sugar
- Sanding sugar
Brown sugars are frequently used for baking because they have more moisture than white sugars, providing a soft and chewy texture. These sugars retain their color and texture due to the amount of molasses they contain. Some forms of brown sugar are created by boiling molasses with white sugar, while others naturally contain molasses from the plant. Brown sugars include the following:
- Dark brown sugar
- Free-flowing brown sugar
- Light brown sugar
- Muscovado sugar
- Raw sugar
- Turbinado sugar
Added sugars can also come in a variety of liquid forms. Many liquid sugar products are often marketed as “healthier” or “natural,” but they are still significant sources of added, empty calories. These liquid sugars include:
- Corn syrup
- Date syrup
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Liquid sugar
- Maple syrup
What Are Sugars Made of?
All forms of sugar can break down into a few key elements. The simplest forms of sugar are monosaccharides. Monosaccharides form a wide variety of other sugars. The three simplest forms of sugar are:
Glucose is found in plants, and it is the most common form of sugar found in plants. Our bodies break all sugars into glucose for energy. Fructose is the sweetest of the monosaccharides and can be found in fruits, honey, and some vegetables. Galactose is commonly found combined with glucose in milk but can be found in nature in some fruits.
These elements are the foundation of all sugars. However, they can be combined into other forms and may be listed on a product label with unfamiliar names. Food manufacturers can use a long list of names for sugar on an ingredients label, making sugar harder to recognize in a product. Some of the common terms you may see used as another term for sugar are:
How Does Sugar React with the Body?
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that can be used to provide energy for your body. However, sugar by itself does not offer sufficient nutrition for sustained energy. Sugar intake is often considered as consuming “empty calories” because sugar does not contain additional nutrients. Ultimately, consuming large amounts of sugar can cause a negative response in the body.
Sugars are almost always constructed from glucose and fructose, which chemically combine to create additional sugars. Glucose and fructose are processed differently in the body. Glucose is processed in the intestines and travels through the blood to be stored in muscles and fat cells for when the body needs it.
Glucose increases blood sugar levels and causes the pancreas to release insulin. On the other hand, the body metabolizes fructose in the liver and, as a result, it does not affect blood sugar or insulin production.
However, glucose and fructose are often consumed together, making the difference in the body’s response almost irrelevant. A high glucose intake leads your body to produce more insulin and store more of the glucose in fat cells. As a result, too much sugar can lead to higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, and other health complications.
Which Type of Sugar Is Healthiest?
There is a lot of debate over which types of sugar are better for you. For example, you may often hear that natural sugars are healthier than added sugars like corn syrup. However, this is a common misconception. Your body generally responds to all sugars the same way, regardless of their type.
Natural sugars are typically associated with fewer negative health effects, but this is more because they are consumed in lower quantities and often accompany nutrients that are included in naturally sweetened foods. The sugar is not in itself healthier.
Some added sugars, like honey, may provide a small number of additional nutrients, but your body still processes it just like any sugar.
In fact, less than 10 percent of your daily calories should come from added sugars. Altogether, there is not exactly a sugar that is “better for you” because the body will metabolize them all the same.
Combat Your Sugar Cravings
Understanding the different types of sugars helps us take control of our sugar intake and our diet as a whole.
Sugar is sneaky; it can hide in some of our favorite foods and lead us to consume more than we intended. As you learn more about the types of sugar and their health effects, Sweetkick has your back.
Our clinically proven Sugar Control Tablets are a great way to start changing your habits and behaviors toward sugary foods and drinks and take back control of daily cravings. Check out this product along with some of our other craving-fighting items on Sweetkick.com.