Natural Sugar vs Added Sugar - What's the Difference?
Chances are, you’ve heard that sugar is bad for you. But then there’s the discussion about natural sugar versus added sugar, and you might wonder why that matters. Here, you’ll better understand what natural sugars are in comparison to added sugars, and why it’s important if you’re looking to lose weight. While some sources recommend consuming natural sugars as a way to promote health, consider the information below to help guide you with cutting sugar from your diet for good.
Natural sugars are named as such simply because they occur naturally in a particular food, meaning humans had nothing to do with its creations. Generally speaking, natural sugars are considered healthier than any other form of sugar, but they are still sugar, and they still make you crave eating more sugar. Fruits, vegetables, and plant-based foods all contain natural sugars. Here are some sources of natural sugars you can find in a local grocery store.
Fruit contains natural sugar in the form of fructose, which is described more below. Whole pieces of fruit are not processed, though canned fruit, juices, smoothies, and other products that contain fruit can have added sugars.
Similar to the fruit above, vegetables contain natural fructose and have zero processing to them. Vegetables are very nutrient dense, with fiber and many antioxidants that help to protect your health.
Milk and Dairy Products
It can be debated whether milk and other forms of dairy are considered processed, but milk that has been pasteurized and homogenized still contains natural sugar in the form of lactose. With that said, some milk products like yogurt and flavored milk can contain added sugars on top of the natural sugar.
In comparison to natural sugar, added sugar is generally what is added to foods to provide flavor. Listed below are some of the most common sugars that are added to foods.
This is the most basic form of sugar possible. Glucose is found in your blood as well as in various foods you consume. Your body breaks down the foods you consume and completes a chemical process to convert it into energy in the form of glucose.
Another sugar you can find in your diet is sucrose, most commonly referred to as table sugar. This sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets. It is made up of two small molecules sugars: glucose and fructose. When combined naturally together, they form this sweetened compound that the human diet has been accustomed to for ages now.
Fructose, or fruit sugar, is naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables and it is considered to be sweeter than the typical table sugar form. Whenever you consume fructose, your body must process it and break it down to glucose. That processing is performed by your liver.
Lactose is a more complex sugar. It consists of glucose and galactose, and it is commonly found in dairy products. Some people have problems digesting this type of sugar, and when the body lacks the enzyme lactase, a condition known as lactose intolerance can form.
This sugar is similar to glucose. Dextrose is a common sugar found in a variety of foods, though especially in treats or desserts. Generally, dextrose is made from corn, and you can find this type of sugar in many baked and processed foods that include corn syrups. It is a simple sugar that is commonly processed for dietary consumption.
Refined and Processed Sugar
Refined sugars are some of the most common forms of sugar in the standard diet. If you have a bag of sugar sitting in your kitchen pantry, you consume refined sugar. This type of sugar is created through a process that extracts naturally occurring sugar in large amounts for foods and beverages. In addition to being extracted from natural sources, refined sugars tend to be less nutritious than the source. Typically, white table sugar has zero nutritive value, and even though brown sugar has not been as refined as much as table sugar, it still has a reduced nutritive value. Be careful with refined sugars because some product manufactures may state on its food label that it comes from natural sources, even though it was processed or refined.
In comparison to refined sugars, processed sugars are created in a manufacturing plant. The most notorious form of processed sugar is high-fructose corn syrup, and it is produced from corn at a very low cost for companies. Because of the low costs, many food manufacturers place it in foods as a way to enhance flavor, but this type of sugar has been linked to many health conditions in the past decade. Be mindful of refined and processed sugars, and if you notice that sugar is in the ingredient list of your food, you can be assured that it is an added sugar.
How Are Added Sugars Hidden in Foods?
There are some ways that added sugars (processed or refined) could be hidden in foods. Food labels are required to state every ingredient listed for a particular food, so if sugar is listed, then this is an added source. There are some names that can mask the use of sugars. Some of them include anything ending in –ose: glucose, dextrose, and high-fructose corn syrup, among others. Being mindful of these sources in your foods can certainly help you to identify any added sugars in your foods. Further information on this can be found in our complete guide to the numerous other names for sugar.
What’s the Difference?
When you consider the two varieties of sugar, natural and added sugars, chances are you will be unable to detect any difference between the two in a taste test. The biggest difference between these two types of sugars is in the number of calories you consume. The best example of this would be with eating an orange compared to orange juice. The orange juice found in grocery stores is heavily processed (even the “not from concentrate” ones) to stay shelf-stable. Beyond that, you might eat one orange in a sitting, but you’d never eat five oranges at once—and that’s how many oranges it takes to get one glass of juice. That means you’re drinking the sugar from five oranges without getting any of the fiber that would slow the digestion of that sugar.
The point here is that processed and refined sugars tend to add more sugar to your diet, which could lead to sugar cravings and potential weight gain. The average American diet consists of about 82 grams of sugar each day, which translates to about 66 pounds of sugar consumed each year. This amount of sugar can quickly cause weight gain as well as poor health, and regardless of whether the sugar is natural or added, it still amounts to calories in your body. If the average American were to cut out sugar from the diet (all 82 grams), this could lead to a caloric reduction of about 328 calories each day, or about three pounds of fat in one month. You can read more about this in our guide on calories in sugar.
How to Cut Sugar From Your Diet
Given that the average American diet consists of 82 grams of sugar each day, finding ways to reduce sugar intake is important. Some adults find that cutting sugar is a challenging task and often this could be due to sugar addiction and even sugar cravings. Sweet Defeat is a natural lozenge that is clinically proven to stop sugar cravings in seconds. Since it works so quickly, this product can help you to cut your cravings so that you can reduce the amount of sugar you eat daily. In terms of weight loss, this can be the difference of more than 300 calories daily, when the standard diet includes 82 grams of sugar each day.
Here’s what you need to know about natural and added sugars: Natural sugars are naturally occurring and can be found in fruits and vegetables. In contrast, added sugars are usually processed or refined in some manner. Many foods contain processed and refined sugars, and over time, the standard diet has incorporated so much sugar that we consume well over 300 calories in the form of sugar each day. With this in mind, cutting the calories added from sugar is important for anyone looking to be healthier and for anyone who wants to lose weight. Consider taking a look into the product Sweet Defeat as a way to cut back on your sugar consumption, and make sure to monitor any sugar you eat regardless of whether it is naturally occurring or added.