Types of Sugar: How each type of sugar influences our health

Our body needs sugars to function, but too much of it can seriously weaken our health. In fact, over-consumption of sugar is the main cause of diabetes, a serious disease that according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is one of the leading causes of death in the world. In addition, diabetes can be the cause of other diseases, such as heart, eye or stomach problems.

types of sugar

That is why, more and more people who want to have a healthy diet, decide to reduce the consumption of sugar in their diet. However, they often do not know what types of sugars exist and what impact it have on their health. A person may think that quitting sugar in coffee is the solution, but still consuming processed foods such as soda, breakfast cereal or industrial bakery containing high fructose corn syrup, a type of sugar that increases glucose levels in blood much faster than a teaspoon of sugar in the coffee.

Generally, any refined sugar is more harmful than whole or unrefined sugars. This is a basic rule that anyone who wants to maintain a balanced diet should follow. In addition, it is important that in your diet you maintain the minimum consumption of sugars, not only through the decrease of table sugar in your diet, but other foods that hidden sugars and carbohydrates in your diet.

To keep you informed, we have prepared a list of the different types of existing common sugars, stopping in its nutritional properties and benefits.

Cane sugar
Although cane sugar has many beneficial properties for health, the truth is that refined cane sugar is totally different. Firstly, the more refined it is, it has been treated by more chemical processes, which would be good to avoid as much as possible, so it is always much more advisable to consume whole cane sugar, that is, untreated. In addition, it is important if the color of the sugar is not due to an artificial colorant, additive E-150.

One of the benefits of consuming whole cane sugar is that it does not go through so many processes to refine it, it maintains all the nutritional properties of cane sugar, that is, vitamin A, B1 and B2 and minerals like potassium. In fact, this is the main difference as far as their nutritional information is concerned, since the white and integral cane sugar contain almost the same calories and hydrates, but the contribution of minerals is substantially higher in cane sugar: for example, while that a serving of white sugar provides 0.6 mg of calcium, the same portion of integral sugar provides 85 mg of calcium. However, although it is much more advisable than refined cane sugar, it should also be consumed in moderation.

One of the most appreciated benefits is that cane sugar does not contain gluten, so it is indicated for people with allergies or intolerant to gluten. In addition, cane sugar contains glycolic acid, a compound widely used in cosmetics as it contains antiseptic properties and is a natural exfoliant.

Beet sugar
Believe it or not, a large part of the white sugar they sell on the market is beet sugar. Beet sugar is obtained after an elaborate process of refining sugar beet. In addition, it is a type of sugar widely used in bakery and industrial bakery.

In reality, there is not much difference between refined beet sugar and white cane sugar, both products has 100% sucrose, a type of sugar that is contacted by the body is divided into glucose and fructose in the bloodstream, so it is not highly recommended to consume in large quantities.

Fructose: high fructose corn syrup
Fructose is a type of simple sugar that is found in fruits naturally. A few decades ago the food industry decided to substitute cane sugar by fructose, because it is much cheaper to extract, mainly based on corn syrup.

There are many detractors of fructose, because it reduces the oxidation of fatty acids in the body, directly increasing triglyceride levels. Therefore, a high fructose consumption can lead to hypertriglyceridemia, can difficulty operating the aorta and result in a fatty liver.

Corn syrup is the type of fructose most used in the food industry: cereals, pastries, sauces and soda, among other processed foods, contain high fructose corn syrup, even some “low-calorie” products. It is important to avoid fructose in the diet as much as possible, so the first step is to look at the ingredients of the products when we consume.

There are many opinions against sweeteners, especially if these are chemical sweeteners like sucralose (additive E955), but the truth is that for many people natural sweeteners can be a physical and emotional support when they need to reduce the consumption of sugar in the diet. Its function is to sweeten the food without the intestine to absorb them, so do not introduce as much sugar in the blood as the usual sugars. The most commonly used natural sweeteners are:

  • Stevia: It is obtained from the leaves of the stevia plant and one tablespoon is able to sweeten as much as 10 tablespoons of table sugar.
  • Molasses: It is obtained from the residues of the crystallization of cane sugar in the refining process. It has several properties, such as high iron content and good proportions of calcium and magnesium. However, abusing this sweetener can cause intestinal problems due to its laxative action.

Honey bee
Honey bee is a natural antiseptic and is traditionally used as a natural remedy because honey has numerous properties and benefits. It is a good alternative as a sweetener, although it also has fructose, glucose and sucrose, so you have to take it in moderation. It is very important that you buy it in a 100% pure state, as some companies sweeten it with other sugars, making it an unsuitable sweetener.

Coconut sugar
It is not yet well known, but coconut sugar is a very healthy natural sweetener. Not only does it have vitamins and minerals in its composition, but in addition, coconut sugar is low in glycemic index, so it does not generate peaks of sugar in the blood, its impact on glucose levels being much lower than other sugars. It can be used by people allergic to gluten and has a delicious sweetness taste.