We are deep into a no sugar added/low-sugar trend. New FDA labeling went into effect this year which impacted packaging on all snacks. The updated label calls out “added sugars” on the label, making it easier for consumers to identify sugar beyond the naturally occurring kind. Studies have proven the harmful effects of high sugar consumption which can include type 2 diabetes, liver disease and insulin resistance.
While sugar consumption should be monitored, there’s no need to avoid the sugar that’s naturally present in whole foods. Fruit, vegetables, and dairy products naturally contain small amounts of sugar, but also fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds. The negative health effects of high sugar consumption are due to the massive amount of added sugar that most people consume every day.
During processing, sugar is added to food to enhance flavor, texture or shelf life. Added sugar is typically a mixture of simple sugars such as sucrose, glucose, or fructose.
Yes. Glucose and fructose, even though they’re often found together, may have different effects on your body. Glucose can be metabolized by nearly every cell in your body, while fructose is metabolized almost entirely in the liver.
Sucrose is the most common type of sugar. Often called “table sugar,” it’s a naturally occurring carbohydrate found in many fruits and plants. Table sugar is usually extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets. It consists of 50% glucose and 50% fructose, bound together.
Although we’re seeing some food manufacturers use less of this sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is still a widely used sweetener, especially in the United States. It’s produced from corn starch via an industrial process and consists of both fructose and glucose. There are several different types of HFCS containing varying amounts of fructose.
Agave nectar, also called agave syrup, is a very popular sweetener produced from the agave plant. It’s commonly used as a “healthy” alternative to sugar because it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels as much as many other sugar varieties. Agave nectar contains about 70–90% fructose and 10–30% glucose.
Most added sugars and sweeteners contain both glucose and fructose.
A few examples you can look for in labels include:
These sweeteners contain pure glucose or glucose that’s combined with sugars other than fructose. These may include other sugars such as galactose: