What Is Refined Sugar?
In the last decade, intense focus has been placed on sugar and its detrimental health effects.
Refined sugar intake is linked to conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Yet, it’s found in a variety of foods, making it particularly challenging to avoid.
Moreover, you may wonder how refined sugars compare to natural ones, and whether they have similar health effects.
This article discusses what refined sugar is, how it differs from natural sugar, and how to minimize your intake.
Refined vs. natural sugars
For several reasons, refined sugars are generally worse for your health than natural sugars.
Foods rich in refined sugars are often heavily processed
Refined sugars are typically added to foods and beverages to improve taste. They’re considered empty calories because they contain virtually no vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, fiber, or other beneficial compounds.
Moreover, refined sugars are commonly added to packaged foods and drinks, such as ice cream, pastries, and soda, all of which tend to be heavily processed.
In addition to being low in nutrients, these processed foods can be rich in salt and added fats, both of which can harm your health when consumed in high amounts
Natural sugars are usually found in nutrient-rich foods
Sugar is naturally found in many foods. Two popular examples include lactose in dairy and fructose in fruit.
From a chemistry perspective, your body breaks down natural and refined sugars into identical molecules, processing both similarly
However, natural sugars typically occur in foods that provide other beneficial nutrients.
For instance, unlike the fructose in HFCS, the fructose in fruit comes with fiber and a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds.
The fiber helps slow how quickly the sugar enters your bloodstream, reducing your likelihood of blood sugar spikes
Similarly, lactose in dairy is naturally packaged with protein and varying levels of fat, two nutrients also known to help prevent blood sugar spikes
Moreover, nutrient-rich foods likely make a greater contribution toward your daily nutrient needs than foods rich in refined sugars.
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