The Many Names of Sugar
Time to Demystify Sugar
First, there are the obvious sugars:
- Sucrose, or table sugar, from sugar cane or sugar beets, consists of two simple sugars, glucose and fructose. It is about 99.9% pure and sold in either granulated or powdered form.
- Brown Sugar consists of sugar crystals contained in molasses syrup with natural flavor and color. Some refiners make brown sugar by adding syrup to refined white sugar. It is 91% to 96% sucrose.
- Honey is an invert sugar formed by an enzyme from nectar gathered by bees. Honey contains fructose, glucose, maltose and sucrose.
- Maple Syrup is a sweetener made from the sap of sugar maple or black maple trees which is converted to sugar.
- Raw Sugar consists of coarse, granulated crystals formed from the evaporation of sugar cane juice. Raw sugar contains impurities and isn’t supposed to be sold in grocery stores due to FDA regulations.
- Confectioner’s Sugar, or powdered sugar, consists of finely ground sucrose crystals and mixed with a small amount of cornstarch.
But did you know that these are also sugars?
- Cane Juice is made from sugar cane. Evaporated cane juice does not undergo the same degree of processing that refined sugar does. Therefore, unlike refined sugar, it retains more of the nutrients.
- Cellulose is actually more of a polysaccharide and is the primary structural component in the wall lining of plants. Mammals do not have the ability to break down cellulose directly.
- Corn Syrups, produced by the action of enzymes and/or acids on cornstarch, are the result of splitting starch. Three major producers contain 42%, 55% and 90% fructose. Dextrose comprises most of the remainder.
- Dextrose, or glucose, is also known as corn sugar. It’s commercially made from starch by the action of heat and acids, or enzymes. It is sold blended with regular sugar.
- High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener made from cornstarch. The amounts of fructose vary with the manufacturer. An enzyme-linked process increases the fructose content, thus making HFCS sweeter than regular corn syrup.
- Invert Sugar is a mixture of glucose and fructose. Invert sugar is formed by splitting sucrose in a process called inversion. This sugar prevents crystallization of cane sugar in candy making.
- Lactose, or milk sugar, is made from whey and skim milk for commercial purposes. It occurs in the milk of mammals. The pharmaceutical industry is a primary user of prepared lactose.
- Levulose, or Fructose, is a commercial sugar much sweeter than sucrose. Its sweetness actually depends on its physical form and how itâ€™s used in cooking. Fructose, known as a fruit sugar, occurs naturally in many fruits.
- Sorbitol, Mannitol, Malitol and Xylitol are sugar alcohols or polyols. They occur naturally in fruits and are produced commercially from such sources as dextrose. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol made from a part of birch trees. Sorbitol, mannitol and malitol are about half as sweet as sucrose. Xylitol has sweetness equal to sucrose.
- Turbinado Sugar is raw sugar that goes through a refining process to remove impurities and most of the molasses. It is edible if processed under proper conditions; however, some samples in the past contained trace contaminants.
Non-sugar sweeteners such as Sweet’n Low, Splenda, NutraSweet, Equal are not sugar; however, many consider them to be. This form of sweetener often contains aspartame which is one of the most toxic substances we can ingest. It has been linked to many neurological, digestive and respiratory symptoms.
Sugar Also Sneaks Into Your Diet
If these were all the sugars to consider, you might look at this list and say ok, I don’t have that much sugar in my diet because I don’t usually buy products that contain these ingredients. I wish it was that easy. In addition to these sugars, we also consume a large number of carbohydrates in our diet.
Carbohydrates are foods that produce glucose (sugar) in our blood at varying rates and speeds which trigger an insulin response. Carbohydrates are not created equal. There are the fruit and vegetable carbohydrates versus the starchy bread and pasta carbs.
The glycemic index and glycemic load of foods help us understand how quickly foods create glucose in our blood. If a food has a low glycemic index, it turns to sugar at a slower rate and creates less of an emergency in the body. If it has a moderate or high glycemic index, it creates an emergency response in the body which over time contributes to many different conditions including inflammation, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and others. There is much written about Glycemic Index and Load and I have supplied a few resources for you to learn more.
I share all this because people are under informed about how much sugar they are eating or feeding their children and it could be contributing to low energy, poor digestion, depression, PMS, PMDD, ADD, ADHD, headaches and other day to day symptoms.
I am not suggesting that you should eliminate all sugars and high glycemic carbohydrates from your diet. I think it’s important to be informed and make decisions that are right for you and your family to achieve optimal health and a sense of well-being.
If you would like to review the foods you eat and make some modifications, I am happy to help. Please contact me at 860.655.1382.
In good health,
- Dietary Sugar and Alternative Sweeteners by Janice R. Herman, PhD, RD/LD, Nutrition Education Specialist www.karlloren.com/diet/p36.htm.
- Detriments of Too Much Sugar Article by Ellen Palmer, Certified Holistic Health Coach, http://ellenpalmerwellness.com/immune_system_depression_sucrose_deficiency_nutrient_absorption