Sugar Terms

Last week I began blogging about sugar since consumption of added sugar in our diets has skyrocketed and has created a serious threat to our health.  Much of this information will be coming from the site sugar science which is a source for scientific evidence about sugar and its impact on health.  Their goal is to help individuals and communities make healthy choices.

Added sugars (refined sugars):

These sugars usually come from sugar cane and/or sugar beets.  But they can also come from grains like corn –think high fructose corn syrup, etc.).  This category of sugar is added to sweetened beverages, candy, cakes, bread, cereal, and so on.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, these types of sugars are consumed in moderation, with calories from sugar, making up no more than 10 percent of their total calorie intake. For example, 10 percent of 1800 calories per day is 180 calories from added sugars.

Added sugars are super high in empty calories and give the body zero nutrients when you consume them. Empty calories just add to your daily total of calories without contributing any health benefits. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “Eating and drinking too many foods and beverages with added sugars isn’t good for your health”. And worse if you eat too many empty calories then it becomes more difficult to maintain a healthy weight and get all the nutrients you need in a day.

Caloric sweeteners:

These sugars are basically any kind of sweetener that contains calories. Think honey, table sugar, agave, monk fruit, and even aspartame.

Fructose (fruit sugar):

Fructose is a type of sugar that occurs naturally in many fruits and even some vegetables. It’s also a component of table sugar.  The good news about fructose is that when it is found naturally in foods, it is considered part of the food’s full nutrient package so it gets the thumbs up unlike added sugars.  According to Beth RosenMS, RD, “The difference between fructose in fruit compared to high-fructose corn syrup in sweetened beverages is the concentration. While a 20-oz bottle of cola contains 36 grams of fructose, an apple contains 12 grams of fructose per serving, and a serving of strawberries contains 4 grams. This means that you would need to eat 3 apples or 9 cups of strawberries to equal the amount of sugar in a soda.”

Natural sugars:

Basically any sugar that is found naturally in foods like fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy. These sugars are part of a foods full nutrient package.

Non-caloric sweeteners:

This type of sugar includes all sweeteners that do not have any calories. Examples of non-caloric sweeteners include stevia, sucralose (Splenda), saccharin and Truvia.


Sugar is the generalized term used for many different sweet carbohydrates made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.  Forms of sugar include simple sugars that are monosaccharaides like fructose, glucose (also known as dextrose), galactose, and complex sugars that are disaccharides like maltose, sucrose, and lactose.

Sugar substitutes:

This term applies to non-caloric and caloric sweeteners that are not actually sugar.  Examples of sugar substitutes include those previously mentioned like Splenda, aspartame, stevia, honey, monk fruit and agave.

From Terms 101 by Mary C. Wiley

Sugar Slash Tip:

Learn sugar aliases which hide under sneaky names such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).




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