Sugar is a controversial food. Sugar makes us fat, and contributes to diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Our bodies process sugar in different ways, making it impossible to evaluate without knowing all the contributing factors of this complex topic.
These are just a few of the headlines that catch your eye when you dig deeper into this topic as to whether sugar is good or bad for us. But what exactly is the harm? What really happens if we consume too much sugar in our diet? Why do some people suffer from diabetes, obesity and heart disease because of their love affair with sweet treats? The science behind these questions has been covered extensively and now it’s time for you to read about what is going on.
What is sugar
Table sugar, in its simplest form, consists of two types: disaccharides and monosaccharides. Disaccaride sugars are made up of double sugars, which consist of a simple sugar called glucose and an even simpler one called fructose.
Table sugar is mainly obtained through photosynthesis by the two green plants sugar cane and sugar beet, since these two are the only plants that can store sugar in large quantities.
How many calories does sugar have?
Sugar consists of 100% carbohydrates, and it is also a carbohydrate supplier in its purest form. 100 grams of sugar therefore contains the same amount (100 g) as carbohydrates which contain 4 kcal/g. Sugar has calories equal to 387 per 100 grams, making it a high-calorie food with 4 kcal/g standard by thermodynamics.
Does our body need sugar?
Despite being called white poison, our body needs carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for our bodies and in turn a major player in how we fuel ourselves. The simple sugar glucose is also known as grape sugar because it tastes like grapes! Our brain alone burns around 130-140 grams of glucose per day which is why it’s important to eat this type of food on a daily basis for maximum performance benefits.
But our body can also produce its own sugar by breaking down the polysaccharides (starch) that are contained in bread or pasta, for example. To give a clear answer to the question of whether we need sugar: Yes, because it is an important source of energy for us as well.
How is sugar processed by the body?
There are different types of sugars, which is why they need to be broken down differently in our body. These include single sugar, double sugar, and multiple sugars.
Simple sugars are absorbed quickly by the body in their direct form, and this ensures that our blood sugar level rises quickly. Our brain gets the necessary energy it needs for us to perform basic functions like focusing or maintaining consciousness.
The fructose and glucose contained in fruits, vegetables and other natural foods are processed by our body more slowly than the sugars found within manufactured products like candy. The sugar from these raw materials reaches our bloodstream much faster.
When we consume multiple sugars, like starch found in bread and cereals, our body first has to convert the starch into glucose. Once it is converted into sugar, then that sugar can be passed on to individual cells via the blood.
Does sugar make you sick?
Consuming sugar on a regular basis can be healthy and helpful in maintaining blood glucose levels. If you are having an issue with high or low blood sugar, and it is not treated effectively by reducing the amount of sweets consumed, your body will begin to struggle as it has to produce large amounts of insulin due to excess consumption.
Over time, the pancreas can be overwhelmed and no longer produce enough insulin. This means that blood level of sugar doesn’t drop to its normal levels and cells become resistant to insulin’s effects.
In the worst case scenario, this condition can lead to type 2 diabetes. The quantity of sugar is crucial in determining whether or not we are becoming sick. A little bit is harmless and good for us, but too much damage our health significantly.
What are the symptoms of high sugar consumption?
Excessive sugar consumption can cause various symptoms. These include the following:
- Persistent hunger
- Strong thirst
- Unintended weight loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Frequent infections
- Visual disturbances or blurred vision
- Frequent urination
If you have symptoms or symptoms of high sugar consumption, you should consult a doctor and take a closer look at your sugar consumption.
Is white sugar or brown sugar healthier?
If you think at first glance that brown sugar has more of the good stuff than white sugar, this is not true. Brown sugar just contains a little bit more minerals and vitamins than its white counterpart because it’s made from beet and cane sugars. This is whole-sugar from the beets or cane itself!
Brown sugar doesn’t have a health benefit. From the point of view of nutrition, it has almost no difference from white sugar. They are both made up of molasses and have virtually the same amount sugars in them so neither one nor the other is healthier than each other.
What natural sugar alternatives are there?
Here you can find an overview of different sugar alternatives:
- Agave syrup
- Rice syrup
- Maple syrup
- Ripe bananas
- Coconut blossom sugar
- Apple syrup
Is honey better than sugar?
Honey is a natural sugar alternative with 80% glucose and fructose and 20% pure water. Since honey has a higher fructose content than sugar, you need less of it to achieve the same amount of sweetness.
Honey is made up of many substances with similar properties to sugar, but it has a different effect on our body compared to table sugar. To ensure that honey can be used safely in small amounts, we should use it sparingly as part of diet.
Agave syrup versus sugar
Agave syrup is obtained from the agave plant, which has been tapped and then boiled down to a syrup. It contains fructose and glucose- one of the lowest glycemic indices in any natural sweeteners- so it’s healthier than many other sugars.
The glycemic index (GI) indicates the effect of a carbohydrate-containing food on blood sugar levels. Agave syrup has a GI around 20%, while table sugar has one around 70%. This means that agave syrup will have less of an impact on blood glucose levels than table sugar, even though it is composed primarily from sugars like sucrose and fructose.
As a result of the slower rate at which it is digested and absorbed, blood sugar levels are stabilized more effectively when consuming agave syrup. In addition, agave syrup only has around 100 calories less per 100g than normal white sugar- not too much difference overall. Agave also contains similar nutrients to regular sugars on average (although shouldn’t be consumed in excess).
Dates and date syrup versus sugar
The fructose content in dates is the same as that of table sugar, but it also contains various minerals such as folic acid, iron, magnesium and potassium. Additionally, dates contain vitamins A and D.
Dates are also suitable for diabetics and have an energy density of 282 calories per 100 g (compared to 387 calories in sugar), so they’re slightly lower in calorie content than sugar. Dates provide us with quick energy, though the blood sugar level doesn’t rise as quickly as it does when eating traditional sugars.
Maple syrup versus sugar
Like honey, maple syrup is a natural sugar alternative. It’s made from the sap of maple trees, and it contains different minerals like potassium, iron and magnesium than regular table sugar does.
It is easy to identify the quality of maple syrup by its color. The lighter the syrup, the higher in quality it is. It has a sugar content of around 65% and fewer calories than honey or sugar, which are more common options for sweeteners.
Therefore, maple syrup is a slightly healthier alternative. Compared to table sugar, you can save 35% in calories.
How much sugar a day is healthy?
According to the latest WHO recommendations, an adult has a maximum of 50 grams of sugar per day-around 200 calories – and should have around 2000 calories in their diet. 5 percent is 25 grams, so it’s important to keep that in mind when planning your daily nutrition intake.
These percentages refer to the amount of so-called “free sugar” in one’s diet. It includes monosaccharides (glucose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose), which are often referred to as simple sugars.
The free sugar can be added to foods and beverages in the form of added sugar or is naturally found in honey, fruit juice concentrates, syrups, and fruit juices. For sugars that are natural like those found in fruits and vegetables there is no recommendation on the part of WHO about how much you should consume per day.
Sugar is often demonized in the media as a “white poison,” but most health experts agree that sugar isn’t harmful when consumed in small amounts. The human body needs sugar to function properly and it plays an important role providing energy. However, people need to be aware of how much they’re consuming because overdoing this can contribute to diabetes and other diseases, like obesity or high blood pressure.