Differences between refined sugar and natural sugar

Is fruit sugar the same as refined sugars?

Is sugar always the same?

The term sugar can refer to a type of nutrient or a type of sweetener. Because nutrition and dietetics are not yet well known, it is common for many people to confuse these two concepts and mix them, giving rise to numerous food myths.

One of the most frequent and widely read mistakes is that of considering that fruits are rich in sugar, to the point of classifying them together with the same sweeteners, when it is not true that fruits contain a lot of sugar…

The main doubts about sugary products and the consumption of refined sugars are resolved below: Why can’t a product with a little added sugar be healthy, if fruits are?

Explanatory picture of the main differences between foods that naturally contain sugar, such as fruits, and industrial products with added sugar.

Differences between natural sugar from fruits and added sugars

How delicious and how healthy are strawberries, they also have few calories!!

First of all, no plant food contains as much sugar and fat as industrial products, so fresh vegetables are always a preferable option over any processed product (even light). Therefore, a fruit is always a good snack, even in case of diabetes.

There is an abysmal difference between refined sugar and natural sugar found in whole foods, to the point that we cannot consider them foods with equivalent sugars.

Differences between refined sugar and fruit sugar

Natural sugar in food is always better than refined sugar, because the same food contains vitamins necessary for sugar metabolism. In contrast, refined sugar is a vitamin “thief”.

Refined sugar is said to be a thief because it increases the body’s requirements for vitamins, since these are removed from the sugar cane during its refinement.

Being refined, its excess is absorbed very quickly and can cause hyperglycemia or high sugar levels. This have negative consequences for health.

Natural foods do not contain as much sugar as industrial products with refined sugar

You can never compare fruit with a food that contains added sugar such as industrial foods (chocolate bars, sweets, breakfast cereals, etc.), because they have totally different properties.

For example, the type of sugar they contain is different. Fruits contain sugar and fructose, a very sweet type of sugar that is absorbed more slowly than sugar (sucrose) and does not raise blood levels as much (which does not mean that it is advisable to take pure (refined) fructose as a sweetener).

In addition, the fruit has a nutritional value (fiber, vitamins, minerals), which industrial products lack. When we eat fruit, fiber and water delay the absorption of sugar, so the sugar in these foods is absorbed gradually, without causing sudden increases in blood sugar levels.

Picture of the main differences between the benefits of fruits and foods that contain sugar. When talking about the benefits of sugar, it never refers to added sugar but to the consumption of natural foods that contain them, such as fruits, and in some diets, dairy.

Added sugars, the worst food for the brain

Many students see their performance decrease or find it difficult to concentrate when they consume large amounts of sugar, since many sugary products are intended for this audience (smoothies, chocolates, candies, bars, sugary cereals, etc.).

It is true that the brain needs sugar to perform, but there are foods that have a better quality of sugars and carbohydrates than others. Sugary products and sugary drinks are detrimental to the study. Choose your food well!

Eating foods with a lot of sugar can lead to over-excitement, hyperactivity, and later drowsiness or hunger again. On the other hand, these teenagers will probably also have aggravated acne if they eat a lot of sugar.

In addition, this sweetener is a “thief” of B vitamins, necessary for study, memory and concentration. An inadequate diet can make study difficult in these aspects. In the study diet it is recommended to avoid foods with added sugars.

Advantages of fruits, naturally sweet foods

brown sugar
Brown sugar is also considered refined sugar

The foods that nature offers us are wisely designed to fulfill a certain function in the body. In that sense, they contain the vitamins necessary to absorb these nutrients. For example, fruit is a food very rich in sugars, and it also contains vitamins that are involved in the absorption of glucose and, therefore, help to absorb the sugar itself.

The fiber and water contained in plant foods allow you to assimilate this sugar more slowly and healthily, without causing blood sugar imbalances or triggering insulin levels.

Disadvantages of refined sugar

All sweeteners, if taken, should be in moderation

Refined sugar is the pure extract of sugar. It contains only the carbohydrate sucrose. It is not accompanied by fiber, vitamins, or minerals from sugar cane or nutritious beets, and not even water.

To digest these refined sugars, the body has to provide the vitamins necessary to absorb them, since they are not provided by food, which has been refined and devoid of its vitamins.

Vitamins that metabolize sugar

Thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and lipoic acid intervene in the metabolism of glucose, nutrients that are naturally present in plant products and do not contain refined sugar.

The current problem is not sugar as a direct sweetener, but the large number of products made with added sugars that are consumed daily: pastries, yogurts, jams…

For this reason, when consuming refined sugar it is popularly said that you are ingesting empty calories, that is, without nutritional contribution.

The fiber in fruits improves the digestion of sugar

The current problem is not sugar as a direct sweetener, but the large number of products made with added sugars that are consumed daily: pastries, yogurts, jams, …

As it does not contain fiber, the same amount of sugar that fruit contains, ingested in a refined form, is absorbed very quickly, which can cause hyperglycemia or blood sugar imbalances.

Sugar is often hidden behind products that also contain many unhealthy fats, such as the well-known trans or hydrogenated fats. This point should also be taken into account as the main damage of sugar, given that sugar is currently consumed in an excessive way and in the form of highly refined or processed foods. They are often loaded with additives and other edible ingredients, but lacking in healthy properties.

* Related information:

– Types of sugar

Varieties of sugar

– White or brown sugar, which is healthier?

Does beetroot contain a lot of sugar?

punto rojo More information on sugar

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

2 August, 2022

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