The sugar you find in a candy bar is very different from the sugar you find in an apple. That’s because they’re two different kinds of sugar. The sugar in a candy bar is added sugar, while the sugar in an apple — or any other kind of fruit — is natural sugar.
Consuming natural sugar is completely healthy; it’s added sugar you need to worry about.
Natural sugar comes with fiber or protein. There are two types of natural sugar, fructose and lactose. Fructose is the kind of sugar you find in fruit, whereas lactose is the kind of sugar you find in dairy. Both are naturally occurring.
The key with both fructose and lactose is that when you consume them, you consume them with other important nutrients, namely fiber in the case of fructose, or protein in the case of lactose. These nutrients help to stabilize your blood sugar levels, which prevents you from feeling hungry soon after eating.
Added sugars are empty calories.
As the name implies, added sugars are processed forms of sugar, like syrups, that are added to certain foods when they’re being made. Because these sugars are processed and not natural, they’re not as good for your body.
Plus, unlike natural sugar, added sugars don’t come with other healthy nutrients. They’re simply empty calories that have no benefit for your body. In fact, consuming too much added sugar is likely to lead to weight gain.
This is why any nutritionist will tell you that it’s much healthier to eat an orange versus drink a glass of orange juice. The juice contains added sugars, the orange does not.
What are added sugars?
Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those in milk and fruits.
The major food and beverage sources of added sugars for Americans are:
- regular soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks
- pies and cobblers
- sweet rolls, pastries, and donuts
- fruit drinks, such as fruitades and fruit punch
- dairy desserts, such as ice cream
Reading the ingredient label on processed foods can help to identify added sugars. Names for added sugars on food labels include:
- anhydrous dextrose
- brown sugar
- confectioner’s powdered sugar
- corn syrup
- corn syrup solids
- high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
- invert sugar
- malt syrup
- maple syrup
- nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
- pancake syrup
- raw sugar
- white granulated sugar
You may also see other names used for added sugars, but these are not recognized by the FDA as an ingredient name. These include cane juice, evaporated corn sweetener, crystal dextrose, glucose, liquid fructose, sugar cane juice, and fruit nectar.
The answer is to eat real food- as nature provided it- oh and don’t forget to try to eat organic- but that is another topic.