Are All Sugars Created Equal? Natural Sugars vs. Sugar Additives


Natural Sugars vs. Sugar Additives

By now, most people are aware that not all calories are created equal. A calorie from a baked potato will have a different effect on the body than one from a whole egg.

But what about sugar? Are all sugars created equal? Is the sugar we get from an apple the same as the sugar added to apple juice? 

Sugar is a ubiquitous part of our diet, found in many foods and drinks we consume daily. However, as you may have guessed, not all sugars are the same. Understanding their differences is essential to make informed choices about what we eat and drink. 

So, let’s break it down by comparing natural sugars and sugar additives. 

Natural Sugars

Natural sugars are also known as intrinsic sugars. They are the naturally occurring sugars found in whole foods like fruits, dairy products, and starchy vegetables, as well as minimally processed foods like whole grain pasta, brown rice, cheese, and yogurt. Mother Nature typically bundles intrinsic sugars with other nutrients like fiber or protein that slow how quickly the sugars are digested. 

When these natural sugars are absorbed more slowly, it will prevent a rapid blood sugar spike and subsequent drop that can commonly lead to weight gain, diabetes, or insulin resistance.

Many whole foods that contain natural sugars are also loaded with vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients that our bodies and brains need to function properly, making them the smartest choice.


Sugar additives, on the other hand, are sugars added to foods by manufacturers during processing. You can find these types of sugars in various processed foods and drinks, like cakes, candies, cookies, and soda. So it’s essential to read ingredient labels carefully when making food choices. 

It is tricky because sugar additives go by many different names. In fact, there are over 61 different names for sugar. Some are familiar, like high-fructose corn syrup, while others, like mannose, are not. Other added sugars include malt syrup, cane sugar, brown sugar, honey, sucrose, dextrose, and agave nectar. These and other added sugars provide little to no nutritional value, and their excessive consumption can lead to health issues.

Moreover, sugar additives are often added to ultra-processed foods and drinks, which can have additional adverse health effects, including weight gain and an increased risk of chronic disease.

We would like to thank Kelly for sharing this educational story with us. Please share your thoughts and/or comments on this or any other article.  And if you would like to get involved and share your experience with Ataxia, please get in contact with us and join our community today. A place where we empower you to build a healthy lifestyle and raise overdue Ataxia Awareness.  Experience transformative storytelling and share your story to inspire positive change.

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