When you eat sugar, this simple carbohydrate is converted into glucose, making it a form that the body can use for energy. But did you know that there are variations in the way the body reacts, depending on the type of sugars you choose to eat?
Not all sweeteners are created equal, which is why it can be beneficial to learn about the various forms of sugar. This information will help you make better food choices throughout the day when you are craving sweets.
Natural Sugars vs. Refined Sugars
Here is a quick overview to help you understand the difference between natural sugars and refined sugars:
- Natural Sugars: These sugars occur in nature and are consumed in a minimally processed form. For example, fruit contains fructose, and dairy products have lactose. These sugars still have essential nutrients that can support overall health. Additionally, natural sugars are often paired with fiber, which helps to slow down the speed in which the sugar affects your blood sugar levels. As a result, the metabolism maintains stability, and you have a longer feeling of satiation after eating.
- Refined Sugar: When sugar is refined, it means that a natural ingredient is processed to extract the sugar from the original food source. In this extraction process, important nutrients are removed, and the sugar is separated from fiber. Additionally, sugar can be chemically manufactured so that it can be added to processed foods. Sucrose is the result of the refinement and chemical processing. When the body breaks it down, it digests quickly and increases blood sugar and insulin levels. Regardless of the quantity of refined sugar you eat, it is common to feel hungry soon after eating.
How to Reduce Refined Sugar Consumption
There is nothing wrong with having a sweet treat every now and then. But it is best to stick with natural sugars as much as possible to reduce the risk of diabetes, weight gain, and other medical conditions. Here are a few tips to help you stay away from refined sugar:
- Drink Selection: Stick to water as much as possible. Soda, fruit drinks, and energy drinks are loaded with refined sugar or alternative sweeteners.
- Condiments and Toppings: Watch the dressings and condiments that you are adding to your meals. Many salad dressings, barbecue sauces, ketchup, and other common ingredients are made with high fructose corn syrup and other refined sweeteners.
- Avoid Processed Foods: While it is convenient to reach for processed food when you are hungry, keep in mind that many of these products are loaded with refined sugars and unhealthy fats.
Natural is always best if you are looking to support your health. So, next time you have a sweet tooth craving, try reaching for a piece of fruit instead of a candy bar.