What is sugar ?
If you want to remove sugar from your diet, start a low carb diet or at least remove the ‘bad’ sugar from your diet, this is what you need to know first! Let me start by what is sugar. Sugar, or sucrose – from its chemical name – is naturally produced in all plants, fruits, vegetables and even in nuts.
One molecule of sugar is always made of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose.
- Glucose is used in every single cells of living creatures and our body produces it from lots of food to give us energy.
- Fructose is only found in highly ripe vegetables; fruits or nuts and our body is not designed to receive a high intake of fructose. Fructose act differently in our body, it has a slower absorption rate than glucose, meaning that you don’t feel satisfy after eating fructose. That is why we tend to overeat fructose food and when we do, our liver will convert it into fat.
Now you understand why eating ‘sugar’ or high fructose food leads to obesity, diabetes or heart disease. Note that fructose from fruits or vegetables have a lower impact compared to liquid fructose from sweeteners or the one added to soda drinks or processed food.
Fruits are nutritious dense, contains fibers but they still add up to your daily sugar counts so they should be selected carefully to focus on low fructose fruits and low carb vegetables.
Technical sugar names you need to know
Apart from table sugar or sucrose, you may have heard of three other sugar names listed below.
- The monosaccharides, made of one sugar molecule
- Glucose – dextrose
- Fructose – sugar found in fruits
- Galactose – sugar that occurs in milk
2. The disaccharides, those are sugar made of two sugar molecules:
- Sucrose – table sugar = glucose + fructose
- Lactose – milk sugar = glucose + galactose
- Maltose – malt sugar = glucose + glucose
3. Polysaccharides (more than 10 sugar molecules).
- Starch (glucose polymer)
Sugar is a carbohydrate, a macronutrient that fuel our body with energy as fat and protein. Carbohydrate is the preferred source of energy of our body. It uses glucose molecules to create energy for our brain, muscle and organs. Fructose is the molecule that we should avoid as much as possible to decrease the effects of sugar on our body.
Natural sugar versus added sugar
In our modern society, we consume two types of sugar:
- Natural Sugar – sugar naturally present in food like fruits (fructose) or milk (lactose)
- Added sugar – this includes any kind of sugar added to processed food – or beverages – during the production or preparation. It also includes the sugar you add to your food – like your coffee, tea or yogurt. Some added sugars are natural sugars, like cane sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey and others are artificial like high fructose corn syrup.
Main product containing added sugar
The main product containing added sugar and the one you should remove from your pantry and fridge right now are:
- Dairy desserts – ice cream and flavored yogurt
- Soft drinks – juice, sports drinks, energy drinks, and flavored water
- Candy and chocolate
- Sweet pastries and desserts – pies, rolls, pastries, brownies, doughnuts, cookies and cakes
How much sugar should you consume a day?
In 2008, people in US were consuming an average of 76 grams of added sugar per day which represents 19 teaspoons of sugar, 306 kcal. The American Heart Association recommend a maximum of added sugar of
- Men: 150 kcal per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons)
- Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons)
- Kids: less than 25 grams or 6 teaspoons a day
Natural sugar from fruits, vegetables and dairy are the healthiest choices. It should be eaten in moderation as those are still simple carbohydrates that will raise your blood sugar level and trigger food cravings.
Common hidden sugar names
There is many sugar names used on the food labels and the list below will help you spot the most common hidden sugar names on the processed food you buy.
My advice, if there is any of those sugar names listed as a top 3 ingredients, don’t buy. It means the product is very high in sugar and will impact your blood sugar level very quickly
 Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-sugar-per-day#section3 and https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/05/01/kids-and-added-sugars-how-much-is-too-much