There are many different kinds of sugar that come in all different textures and have unique tastes. We talk a lot about the way sugar affects our body, but how much do we actually know about sugar itself?
Is all sugar bad for you? And how many types of sugar really are there?
Read on to learn more about the different kinds of sugar, how they’re used, and how they may affect your health.
The type of sugar that you generally think of as “table sugar” and might bake with and stir into your morning coffee is called sucrose. Sucrose is a carbohydrate known as a disaccharide, and it’s made up of one molecule of glucose bound to one molecule of fructose.
Sugar is produced naturally in plants, including fruits, vegetables, and nuts. It's made during photosynthesis as plants transform the sun’s energy into food. Sugar cane and sugar beets are the two plants that hold the most sugar, so most commercial sugar is extracted from these two plants.
The extraction process for making most sugars involves pressing the plant to release juice. The juice is concentrated and crystalized, then it is spun to separate the liquid, or molasses, from the crystals. The amount of molasses left on the sugar crystals depends on the type of sugar.
Granulated sugar has no molasses left on it after the refining process, but raw sugars like demerara or turbinado have some molasses leftover. Some varieties, like brown sugar, have the molasses added back in after the refining process.
Sugars can be broken down into various groups. Monosaccharides and disaccharides, which are made up of one sugar unit and two sugar units respectively, are both forms of simple carbohydrates.
Oligosaccharides and polysaccharides are each forms of complex carbohydrates, and they are made up of three to 10 units of sugar, and 10 units of sugar respectively. Let’s review the two types of simple carbohydrates and which types of sugar fall into each one.
Monosaccharides, or simple sugars, are the basic compounds that make up all carbohydrates. Glucose, fructose, and galactose are the three main monosaccharides that make up the carbs we eat. Glucose and fructose are found naturally in plants, while galactose comes from milk.
Disaccharides are sugars that contain two monosaccharides linked together, such as sucrose or maltose. Sucrose is a disaccharide because it contains one molecule of fructose bonded to one molecule of glucose.
Lactose, a sugar found in milk, is a disaccharide that contains one molecule of galactose and one molecule of glucose bonded together.
Sugar that is naturally found in food is called natural sugar. These sugars come from milk, fruits, and vegetables, which also provide all kinds of nutrients that your body needs to function correctly.
Sugar from natural sources is an essential part of the healthy diet that is recommended by the Dietary Guidelines of America. Natural sources of sugar can also include things like fiber, phytochemicals, and essential vitamins and minerals.
Added sugar, as we recently discussed here, is sugar that has been added to a food or beverage after it has been produced or prepared. A diet high in added sugars can increase your chance of developing both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Studies have shown that a diet high in added sugar can make you three times as likely to die from heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your added sugar consumption to fewer than six percent of your total daily calories.
Added sugar comes in many forms. Such examples include various types of sugars and syrups usually used for cooking and baking, like granulated sugar, brown sugar, simple syrup, and powdered sugar.
Here are some other examples of added sugars:
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener made from corn starch. Starch contains glucose, and when it is broken down into individual glucose molecules, it turns into corn syrup that is 100 percent glucose.
When certain enzymes are added to corn syrup, some of the glucose is converted into fructose. The end product of this process is high-fructose corn syrup.
HFCS is found in many products such as soda, juice, breakfast cereal, pancake syrup, jams, and candy. It has been associated with a higher risk for type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, obesity, and an increased risk of developing gout and kidney stones in men.
Honey is a sweet syrup made by bees from the nectar of plants and flowers. It contains fructose, glucose, maltose, and sucrose, and can even contain other types of sugar depending on what plant the bees have collected it from.
Though honey is a source of added sugar, it also contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that may benefit your health.
Agave syrup, also called agave nectar, is a concentrated form of the fluid found inside the agave plant, a cactus that is native to Mexico. It is made up of mostly fructose, with some glucose. Studies have shown that a diet high in fructose may increase your chance of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Sucrose is a common source of added sugar, but it comes in many forms. Because all of these sugars are made of sucrose, which is made up of equal parts glucose and fructose, they are all metabolized by your body in the same way.
Here are eight of the most common types of sucrose and how they’re used.
Granulated sugar is also known as white sugar, table sugar, or regular sugar and is the most common sugar used in baking. It is also commonly used to sweeten hot beverages like coffee and tea.
This type of sugar is made from sugar cane juice. After being extracted from the cane, the juice is filtered to remove dirt and then boiled into a syrup and spun to separate the crystals.
It is then liquefied again and processed to remove any remaining color. The crystals are separated again and ground into fine, white crystals.
Powdered sugar is also known as confectioner’s sugar or icing sugar. It dissolves easily, so it’s often used in frosting and icing.
This sugar is granulated sugar that is ground into a powder. Commercial powdered sugar is often mixed with cornstarch to prevent caking.
Superfine sugar is made by grinding granulated sugar into finer crystals. This type of sugar is commonly used in baked goods, desserts like mousse or pudding, and as a sweetener for beverages. It is also ideal for making meringues.
Both light and dark varieties of brown sugar are made by mixing white sugar with molasses, which is the syrup that remains after sugar is crystallized. This type of sugar is used in baked goods, oatmeal, baked beans, and sauces such as barbeque sauce.
Demerara sugar is a minimally processed sugar made by dehydrating cane syrup after it’s extracted from sugar cane. It generally has bigger crystals than white sugar or brown sugar, with a light brown or gold tint. This sugar can be used in baked goods, to sweeten beverages, or sprinkled on top of desserts like crème brûlée to add crunch.
Turbinado sugar is also known as raw sugar. Similar to demerara, turbinado sugar is a partially processed sugar that has only had the top layer of molasses washed off. It has large crystals that are light brown in color.
This sugar can be used in baked goods, as a sweetener for hot beverages, and as a crunchy topping for desserts.
Muscovado sugar is also known as Barbados sugar. Unlike brown sugar, which is refined white sugar with molasses mixed back in, muscovado sugar is an unrefined sugar in which the molasses has never been removed.
This sugar is dark brown in color and has coarse, almost sandy crystals. It can be used in desserts and savory dishes similarly to brown sugar, but it has a deeper flavor.
This type of sugar is also known as simple syrup. Liquid sugar is made from one part granulated sugar dissolved in one part water. Because the sugar has already been dissolved, it is perfect for sweetening cold beverages like iced coffee, iced tea, and cocktails.
The dietitian and nutrition team here at NutriSense recommends the following general tips for anyone who wants to optimize their overall health and reduce their sugar intake.
1) Minimize your consumption of added sugars.
2) Choose whole fruit over processed fruits and juices and avoid fruits with added sugar.
3) Pair your sugar or carbs with protein and even consider eating protein first to help keep blood sugar more balanced.
4) Time your carb or sugar consumption around times of higher physical activity during your day.
5) Test out different amounts and types of sugar to see what works best for your unique body.
Your blood sugar levels can significantly impact how your body feels and functions. That’s why stable blood glucose levels can be an important factor in supporting overall wellbeing.
With Nutrisense, you’ll be able to track your blood glucose levels over time using a CGM, so you can make lifestyle choices that support healthy living.
Ready to take the first step? Start with our quiz to see how Nutrisense can support your health.
Looking for a quick bowl recipe to throw together for lunch? Here are six healthy and delicious bowl recipes to try, recommended by our very own dietitians.
Have you ever wondered if beauty sleep is real? We'll explore what the experts have to say about the effects of sleep on your appearance.
Is it normal to have higher blood pressure in the morning? And how can you know if your blood pressure is ideal? Read on to learn more.
Bananas are delicious fruits packed full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. But do they raise your blood sugar levels? Read on to find out how bananas affect glucose.
We’ll take you through the benefits of mindful eating and then conduct an experiment with the help of a CGM to see how eating speed can impact your blood sugar.
In this article, we’ll explore seven different dance styles and the health benefits they can provide, plus a few tips to help you dance to your target weight.
You may be wondering whether your CGM is safe to swim with. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when using your CGM around water.
We’ll take you through some of the best chest and shoulder exercises for beginners and share an upper body workout plan to try out during your next gym session.
Does consuming fructose cause blood sugar spikes? And where does this type of sugar come from? Read on to learn more about how fructose affects the body.
A PCOS belly is one of the most commonly experienced symptoms of PCOS. We'll explore what causes it and share some tips for PCOS-related weight gain.
In this post, we’ll dive into the eight ways that swimming can positively impact your metabolic health for the next time you hit the swimming pool.
Did you know your weight fluctuates during your period? Read on to find out why period weight gain is so common.
In this article, we share the major culprits of post-meal blood glucose spikes and some actionable tips to help you optimize your postprandial glucose response.
Glucose and glycogen are two types of carbohydrate molecules that your body relies on for many metabolic functions. Learn more about how they work together.
For the last several decades, diet sodas have been popularized as a “healthier option” to normal sodas. But are they actually healthier? Read on to find out.
Japanese eggplant is a nutrient-dense food that can be beneficial for your health. Looking to try it out? Here are some delicious, dietitian-approved recipes you can start with.
Russell Battles shares how using a CGM helped him revamp his diet, exercise, and lifestyle after suffering from a heart attack.
From vitamin C to fiber, apples are loaded with nutrients and filled with health benefits. But did you know they may also have some effects on insulin levels and your efforts to control blood sugar? Read our article to find out more
A set of reliable steps you can take to manage your blood glucose levels that should fit most lifestyles of persons with prediabetes.
You don't have to be a certain size or weight to be healthy! Learn more about what metabolic health is, and why your size doesn't dictate it.
Can't decide on the perfect gift for Mother's Day? Pick from a list of ideas to find a healthy, but still exciting gift this year.
Learn how your menstrual cycle can affect your blood sugar levels, and what you can do to maintain healthy blood sugar control.
The whirlwind of holiday celebrations can make you forget about your health goals. To help you out, we've compiled a list of tips along with our favorite recipes so you can balance indulgence, tradition, and good health this year.
Learn more about the beneficial effects of probiotics on your immune system and take a look at some probiotic foods you can add to your diet.
Drinking wine in moderation can have some health benefits, but it's important to know what those are and how they may impact you.
Review some of the top reasons you might be experiencing constant hunger and some useful tactics to help curb hunger cravings.
Laughing has some amazing health benefits, from boosting your immune system to fighting stress. Find out more about the science behind laughter and how you can start incorporating more of it into your life.
Dietary fiber can help maintain good gut health and promote blood sugar regulation. Read more about its health benefits and see what high-fiber foods you should consider including in your diet.
Many people experience symptoms akin to menstrual cramping even when they are not on their periods. It’s surprisingly common, and various factors can contribute to it. Read on to find out what some of these are.
Check out some of the common and not-so-common reasons you’re likely feeling tired after eating and read our tips to help prevent fatigue after meals.
If you're consuming fewer calories than your body needs to function properly, you may be undereating. Take a look at how this can affect your weight loss efforts and overall health.
One of the best ways to get all the mental and physical benefits of nature is by flexing your green thumb. Read on to learn more about how gardening can benefit your health.
CGMs are now an excellent tool for anyone who wants to optimize their metabolic health. Read on to find out more about the benefits CGMs can have for healthy people!
Learn the science behind hanger, why some people suffer from it, and helpful tips to avoid experiencing it.
Macro and micronutrients impact everything weight loss to blood sugar levels. Read on to learn more about these nutrients and why you need them.
Although bariatric surgery can be an effective way to lose weight and improve health for people who are obese, it’s a major decision. Find out what lifestyle changes you need to make before going under the knife.
Review the reasons that continuous glucose monitoring continues to grow in popularity amongst the world’s top athletes.
Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) have come to form a crucial part of the next generation of holistic wellness management. Come and see how you can "level up" your health optimization game with the latest wearables.
Cryotherapy is gaining popularity among biohackers, fitness enthusiasts and those who want to optimize their health. Learn more about how it works and the risks and benefits associated with it.
Learn more about what visceral fat is, how it affects your body, and what you can do about it.
Do you have trouble losing weight, no matter how hard you try to shed those unwanted pounds? Find out more about the weight loss plateau and what you can do about it.
Learn more about the research on, as well as the benefits and risks of acupuncture, a form of alternative medicine that involves inserting needles into your body for pain and stress relief.
In this second part of our series on resistant starch, explore the different types and learn more about the impact they have on the foods you consume.
Neuropathy, or nerve damage, can cause pain, discomfort, and interfere with daily tasks. Explore effective ways to prevent and manage it.
It's Christmas this weekend! Read on to learn more about traditions, classic Christmas foods, and how to have a healthier celebration this year.
This Halloween, find out what candy you can treat yourself to without ruining your long-term health goals.
Resistant starch can help you lose weight and improve your health. Learn about commercially made resistant starch, how it works, and why it's different from the kind you're used to seeing in supplements and foods.
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition that involves endocrine and metabolic imbalances. Here are some PCOS friendly foods to include in your diet for better health.
What do you know about resistant starch? Learn more about what this type of starch is, how it can benefit your health, whether it has side effects, and more.
Recent research has shown that sleep and blood glucose are intricately connected. Read on to learn more about what this means for your blood sugar levels and overall health.
The best way to combat low blood sugar at home is to take a glucose tablet or glucose gel. Here’s what to do with low blood sugar at home.
An emerging treatment, red light therapy promises to prevent and treat the signs of aging and other skin issues. Read on to find out more.
Nordic walking is a full-body workout in which special lightweight poles are held in each hand to activate the entire body while walking. Learn the benefits of Nordic walking and how you can get started with this activity.
Review some of the reasons that you might be experiencing persistent, excessive thirst and how you can better stay hydrated.
Learn what high-intensity resistance training is, how it can benefit your metabolism, and nine tips to get started with HIRT.
Learn what is glucose intolerance, how it affects your body, and why blood glucose monitoring is vital to blood glucose management.
Find out what exactly a holiday health hangover is, the symptoms you may experience, tips on how to avoid one, and what you can do if it's too late.
A blood ketone level of .5 to 3.0 millimoles per liter is the ideal range for ketosis. Find out more here.
Review our helpful article where we discuss the best times to eat if you are trying to lose weight.
Explore the ways in which you can actively begin reversing prediabetes through diet and lifestyle changes.
Learn about how weight loss can impact blood glucose levels, and find tips for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
Do you spend all your free time scrolling through social media? If you can’t remember the last time you went offline, you may need a digital detox.
Read on to find out what impact, if any, vinegar really has on our body’s ability to balance blood sugar.
Review our glycemic index charts for the most common fruits and vegetables to better understand the impact on your glucose levels.
Did you know that menopause can affect your metabolic health, and vice versa? Read on to understand the relationship between metabolic health and menopause, and how to manage metabolic health during your menopausal journey.
What really happens to your brain when you consume sugar? Review how interesting the relationship between the brain and sugar is, and why it’s important to control your blood sugar.
Endometriosis is a common yet often ignored condition. Learn more about the symptoms to watch out for, how you can seek treatment, and read first-hand accounts from two women who have dealt with endometriosis.
Quickly understand the differences between hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, how to recognize the signs, and key prevention tips.
Learn everything you need to know about the relationship between triglycerides levels and blood glucose.
If you're gearing up to travel or spend more time outdoors this summer, here are a few tips to help you stay safe and hydrated in the sun.
Purim, a joyous occasion celebrated around March or April every year, is just around the corner! Read on to learn more about the holiday and the delicious foods that accompany it.
Still haven't settled on the perfect gift for your Valentine this year? Take a look at our Nutrition Team's favorites for some thoughtful ideas.
Because nerve damage can have many silent symptoms, it often goes undiagnosed in the early stages. Read on to learn more about what causes nerve damage and some warning signs to watch out for.
Ready to learn all about fiber beyond just the basics? In this post, we dive deep into the different kinds of fiber and health benefits of each. From functional fiber to fermentation, we break down all the jargon into a layman's language.
Did you know that cardio can help you lose weight as well as optimize your health and blood glucose? Here's everything you need to know about cardio and its relationship with blood sugar.
Find out what unhealthy weight loss is and learn more about its side effects and what you can do to prevent them.
Learn about the warning signs of low blood sugar and the relationship it has on blood pressure.
Here is everything you need to know about the relationship between weight lifting and blood sugar.
Cholesterol plays a very important role in the human body, contributing to the structure of the cells, helping with vitamin D synthesis, and also promoting the production of steroid and sex hormones, like cortisol, aldosterone, testosterone, and estrogen. But how exactly is cholesterol connected to blood glucose levels?
NutriSense dietitian Katrina Larsen, MS, RD,N, LD, CDCES discusses the risk factors for sleep apnea and how this disorder is linked to other health conditions.
The premise of the paleo diet is that the body can handle a mix of meats, fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish, and complex carbohydrates better than processed meats, refined fats, grains and simple carbohydrates because it evolved to eat the first category as hunter-gatherers.
A common ingredient in cozy winter recipes, winter squash is one of our favorite foods this time of year. Read on to learn more about how it can benefit your health.
Haven't finished your holiday shopping yet? Pick from this list of NutriSense-approved holiday gifts to find some great last-minute stocking stuffers for everyone on your list!
Still haven't bought all your holiday gifts this year? Don't worry—there's still time to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Read our guide for some great ideas!
Learn more about inflammation, how it affects blood glucose levels and what you can do to prevent and manage it.
Fermented foods have a range of health benefits. Read on to learn more about what they are and why you should be adding them to your diet.
Potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes are similar in usage, but pretty distinct in taste, texture, appearance, and even nutritional content! Read on to find out more about each one.
Did you know that living with a pet can do more than just put a smile on your face? Read on to learn all the ways living with pets improves your wellbeing.
Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to dishes, and also have a range of health benefits. Learn more about a few of our favorites.
Learn about the health benefits of beans and how they can help you live a healthier, longer life.
Review our guide to metabolic diets to help get a better understanding of what they are and whether they might be right for you.
Learn about the traditions and nutrient-dense food commonly enjoyed during Kwanzaa.
Have you ever wondered how your glucose levels might be connected to joint pain? We'll take a deep dive into this connection and share tips for reducing pain.
This article explores hypoglycemia in non-diabetics, how to manage symptoms through diet, and the advantages of glucose monitoring.
Take a look at how aging can affect your blood glucose levels.
Read on to learn more about vitamin D-rich foods and what you should include in your diet to make the most of this vitamin’s health benefits.
When it comes to your menstrual cycle, what you eat can significantly impact how you feel. Read on to learn more about the best foods to add to your diet to help during that time of the month.
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic healing system that dates back over 5,000 years. In the second installment of our series on the practice, review the benefits and risks associated with popular Ayurvedic herbs and spices.
In this article, we break down what a low FODMAP diet looks like for beginners, and its potential benefits and drawbacks for gastrointestinal health.
When it comes to bone health, good nutrition is absolutely critical. Read on to learn what osteoporosis is and why some foods may increase your risk of or worsen the condition.