The Skinny On Sweeteners: Sugar, Sugar.

There are so many different types of sweeteners with varying sweetnesses and health affects, it’s important to understand the basics of what sugar is and how it is metabolized.  This is Part 1 of what will be a little series on sweeteners.  Sugar, sugar.  Lets start with plain old white table sugar, AKA sucrose, is the most common sugar.  Sucrose is a disaccharide (2 sugar) composed of glucose and fructose.  All other sugars are made of different percentages of these two sugars or a few others.

Sucrose, is a pure carbohydrate and therefore has a high energy content (lots of Calories).  When too much sucrose is consumed, beneficial nutrients can be displaced from the diet, leading to an increased risk for chronic disease,  such as obesity and insulin resistance (Type 2 Diabetes).

Sugar Metabolism.  Sucrose is metabolized (broken down) into glucose and fructose.   The glucose component can be metabolized anywhere in the body.  Most is transported into the blood (about 90%) and the rest is converted to temporary storage in the liver.  The fructose is processed by the liver into mostly fat and a few other things.

Glycemic Index.  The glycemic index (speed glucose is released into the bloodstream) of a sugar containing glucose is considered high-glycemic.  Fructose does not affect this, since it is absorbed in the GI track (gastrointestional) and broken down in the liver.  Therefore fructose has a very low glycemic index,  the lowest of sugars.

Glucose.  Most carbohydrates contain some amount of glucose, either alone or with other sugars (such as: sucrose and lactose).  Glucose is used as energy in different cells.  What’s left goes to the liver, fat and muscle, where it is stored efficiently.  The glucose remains in this less reactive (harder to burn off) form until needed.

Fructose.  Fructose doesn’t stimulate the release a hormone that makes us feel full (like glucose via insulin).  So when we consume too much fructose, we are likely to eat more!  Think of it like this: eating fruit that contains fructose along with fiber and water leaves you feeling satisfied.  However, drinking soda loaded with HIGH FRUCTOSE corn syrup, artificial flavors and perservatives will leave you wanting more.  The highest dietary sources of fructose are table sugarhigh-fructose corn syrupagavehoneymolassesmaple syrup and, as mentioned, fruit.  Exercising (Fit Tips, Quick Abs) after eating fructose can reduce the affects by increasing the metabolism and processing it out of the body faster.  Eating excess fructose has been linked to causing insulin resistanceobesity, elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, leading to increase for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.



Hope you enjoyed learning about sugar.  Stay tuned for the next segment on some of the sweetners I use.


XO Miriam


PS  Here is a chart comparing some of the sweetness of these different sugars.
2 Responses to “The Skinny On Sweeteners: Sugar, Sugar.”
  1. wartica says:

    Thanks for breaking it down; more major reasons why I stay clear of these kinds of product! Great post and I look forward to sharing more with you:)

  2. Colleen says:

    Awesome blog! I’m sort of convinced that refined sugar is one of the most detrimental “foods” on the market today. Robert H. Lustig, MD, did a fabulous (yet longwinded) explanation on various sugars in a video lecture:

    I really enjoyed how you broke down the info! 🙂

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