Nutrition
Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Added Sugar Vs. Natural Sugar: What’s the Difference?

Sugar is one item that knowingly or unknowingly becomes a part of our diet. Whether you eat fruits or canned items, vegetables or packaged food, sugar is present in one or the other form. If you’ve been trying to lose weight or have been diagnosed with diabetes, you would often be asked to control your sugar consumption. But what type of sugar should you control or avoid eating? There are primarily two types of sugars, i.e., natural sugar and added sugar. Added sugar generally refers to processed sugar used generously in packaged food items. 

On the other hand, natural sugar is found in whole food items like fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also define added sugar as a sweet syrup that is considered not so healthy by fitness experts. It is generally heavily processed, but there can be exceptions to it. As a person trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, it is essential to understand the difference between added sugar vs. added sugar. To make your research work easier, we’ve compiled this epic guide covering everything you should be aware of the two sugar types.

What is Added Sugar?

Added sugar refers to the sugar added to food items while cooking or baking. It is also added during packaged food items’ processing or production phase. This statement indicates that added sugar can be found in almost every food item we pick from the grocery shelves or cook at home. While cutting food items with added sugar can be strenuous, it is possible to limit their intake. 

You can make a difference by picking items that are more nutrition-dense. You can progress by picking more whole food items like fresh fruits and other unpackaged items. If you want to progress, try avoiding foods with a huge added sugars composition. These products include pastries, candies, packaged fruit juice, soda, cereals, salad dressings, ice cream, sweetened yogurts, and more. 

Explore the best juices for diabetes.

What is Natural Sugar?

As the name indicates, natural sugar refers to naturally occurring sugar. It is generally present as fructose in all fruits and lactose in milk. If you try drinking milk without adding sugar, you will feel a bit of sweetness. It is because of the naturally occurring sugar present in milk. If you are lactose intolerant, you can rely more on fruits and fresh vegetables to get the required amount of harmless sugar in your body. 

Also read about the best fruits for diabetes.

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What‘s the Actual Difference Between Added and Natural Sugar?

The biggest question most people have is what exactly is the difference between added sugar vs. natural sugar? Well, the answer is simple. Since natural sugar forms naturally within fruits and vegetables, it isn’t harmful and calorie-dense. It is generally full of antioxidants and fiber. But it isn’t the case with added sugar.

Since added sugar is used during the processing or production process, it generally loses all its nutritional profile. By consuming food with added sugar, it does nothing but add more calories. You cannot expect to receive any nutritional benefits while consuming added sugar. 

How Much Sugar Should You Eat?

Since added sugar can do more harm than good, it is recommended that you limit your added sugar intake. According to The American Heart Association, women should limit their added sugar consumption to 25 grams a day or 6 teaspoons. On the other hand, men should cap their consumption at 36 grams a day or nine teaspoons. If you see it from a calorie perspective, women should not have more than 100 calories a day from added sugar, and men not have more than 150 calories.

Since packaged and processed foods have high amounts of refined sugar, be careful with what you add to your shopping cart. Since almost all the food items have sugar added to them in one form or the other, it is suggested that you keep a check on the ingredients list before buying anything. If any products have a high percentage of added sugar, dump it and look for alternatives. 

Are Added or Natural Sugars Really Bad for You?

Added sugar can soon become a significant problem because you don’t monitor and control your intake. Unlike natural sugar, added sugar doesn’t offer any nutritional benefits. It adds empty calories to your daily diet, which can, over time, lead to obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, and other problems. While it can be challenging to give up every food item you love because of the added sugar, it is possible to reduce their consumption. 

In the debate about added sugar vs. natural sugar, it is clear that added sugar is addictive, and its overconsumption can leave you with various diseases. Natural sugar, however, is considered nutritious and way better than added sugar. 

Also know about Natural Sweeteners for Diabetes.

Smart Grocery Shopping Tips

Now that you understand added sugar vs. natural sugar, let’s quickly jump into a few helpful grocery tips that can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

1. Make a List of your Favourite Sugarfree or Low Sugar Foods

Once you reach a grocery store, you won’t be able to pick hundreds of products to check their added sugar content. Hence, doing a little research before leaving your house can do wonders. Check what items have low added sugar composition online, add the relevant items to your list, and then head out for shopping.

2. Never Shop on an Empty Stomach

When your stomach is full, you’ll be more composed and mindful while grocery shopping. If you skip a meal and reach the store, your mind will trick you into buying whatever seems convenient. As a result, you may end up picking items having extremely high sugar content. 

3. Avoid Packaged and Processed Items

Want to stay healthy? If yes, always fill your cart with less processed or packaged items because they have relatively lesser levels of added or refined sugar. Stick to more fresh fruits and vegetables, as they contain sugar in their healthiest form.  

Besides these points, you can check the ingredients list before adding any item to the cart.

Bottomline

If you’re looking for the crux of the whole added sugar vs. natural sugar debate, we’d say it is to encourage people to start measuring the quantity of added sugar they take, and try to keep it within the levels mentioned above. We cannot entirely avoid consuming sugar, and we should not make such attempts either. Natural sugar is healthy with tons of nutritional value, so you don’t have to worry much about it.

FAQs

Is Natural Sugar the Same as Added Sugar ?

Although both may taste the same to a certain extent, they are certainly not the same. Natural sugar is healthier than added sugar. 

How Much Natural Sugar ca ne consumed in a Day?

Whether it is added sugar or natural sugar, women should not exceed its consumption by more than 100 grams a day, and men 150 grams a day.

Does Natural Sugar Count as Sugar?

Yes, natural sugar also counts as sugar. The only difference between natural sugar and added sugar is that the former is healthier and the latter is not. 

Is Natural Sugar Healthier than Added Sugar?

Foods containing natural sugars like Fruits offer additional nutrients that keep your body healthy, provide fast yet stable energy, and keep your metabolism stable. Added sugars are processed sugars added during the processing of packaged foods and are high in calories but do not provide any nutrients.

References

  • https://www.platejoy.com/blog/added-sugar-natural-sugar-difference

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