Food Sources and Facts of Sugars


Many children have a preference for sweet, carbohydrate-rich foods. Overconsumption of foods high in sugar may increase risk of dental caries and obesity. However, rigorous elimination of sugar-containing foods from a child’s diet without adequate energy substitution may lead to weight loss and poor growth. Again, moderation is the key. Decreasing refined-sugar intake during childhood can be difficult, as it is often added to processed foods popular with children.

Simple carbohydrates are naturally present as simple sugars in fruits, milk, and other foods. Plant carbohydrates also can be refined to produce sugar products such as table sugar or corn syrup. The term “sugars” is traditionally used to describe the monosaccharides and disaccharides. Monosaccharides include glucose, galactose, and fructose. Monosaccharides consist of a single sugar molecule (mono meaning “one” and saccharide meaning “sugar”). Disaccharides consist of two sugar molecules chemically joined together (di meaning “two”). Monosaccharides and disaccharides give various degrees of sweetness to foods.

“Added sugars” are defined as sugars and syrups that are added to foods during processing or preparation. They do not include naturally occurring sugars, such as lactose in milk or fructose in fruits. Major food sources of added sugars include soft drinks, cakes, cookies, pies, fruit ades, fruit punch, dairy desserts, and candy. Specifically, added sugars include white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup, corn-syrup solids, high-fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose, and crystal dextrose.

Although added sugars are not chemically different from naturally occurring sugars, many foods and beverages that are major sources of added sugars have lower micronutrient densities compared with foods and beverages that are major sources of naturally occurring sugars.


The three monosaccharides are glucose, fructose, and galactose. Fructose or fruit sugar, the intensely sweet sugar of fruit, is made by rearranging the atoms in glucose molecules. Fructose occurs naturally in fruits, in honey, and as part of table sugar. However, most fructose is consumed in sweet beverages, desserts, and other foods sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or other added sugars. Glucose and fructose are the most common monosaccharides in nature. The other monosaccharide, galactose, has the same number and kind of atoms as glucose and fructose but in another arrangement. Galactose is one of two single sugars that are bound together to make up the sugar of milk. Galactose rarely occurs free in nature but is tied up in milk sugar until it is freed during digestion.


The three other sugars important in nutrition are disaccharides, which are linked pairs of single sugars. The disaccharides are lactose, maltose, and sucrose. All three contain glucose. In lactose, the milk sugar just mentioned, glucose is linked to galactose. Malt sugar, or maltose, has two glucose units. Maltose appears wherever starch is being broken down. It occurs in germinating seeds and arises during the digestion of starch in the human body.

The last of the six sugars, sucrose, is familiar table sugar, the product most people think of when they refer to sugar. In sucrose, fructose and glucose are bonded together. Table sugar is obtained by refining the juice from sugar beets or sugar cane, but sucrose also occurs naturally in many vegetables and fruits. It tastes sweet because it contains the sweetest of the monosaccharides, fructose.

When you eat a food containing monosaccharides, you can absorb them directly into your blood. When you eat disaccharides, though, you must digest them first. Enzymes in your intestinal cells must split the disaccharides into separate monosaccharides so that they can enter the bloodstream. The blood delivers all products of digestion first to the liver, which possesses enzymes to modify nutrients, making them useful to the body. Glucose is the monosaccharide used for energy by all the body’s tissues, so the liver releases abundant glucose into the bloodstream for delivery inside the body. Galactose can be converted into glucose by the liver, adding to the body’s supply. Fructose, however, is normally used for fuel by the liver or broken down to building blocks for fat or other needed molecules.

Although it is true that the energy of fruits and many vegetables comes from sugars, this doesn’t mean that eating them is the same as eating concentrated sweets such as candy or drinking cola beverages. From the body’s point of view, fruits are vastly different from purified sugars (as later sections make clear) except that both provide glucose in abundance.

Food Sources of Sugar

Food name Weight (g) Sugar (g)
Honey 339 278
Corn syrup 341 261
Molasses 337 251
Sorghum syrup 330 247
Malt syrup 332 236
Fruit syrup 334 177
Sugar 120 117
Raisins 165 108
Figs 149 71
Dried apricots 130 69
Peaches 160 66
Prunes 174 66
Maple syrup 80 47
Tamarinds 120 46
Blueberries 244 42
Mamey sapote 175 35
Passion-fruit 247 35
Jackfruit 165 31
Litchis 190 28
Bananas 225 27

Health Benefits of Sugar

Here we will know some health benefits of sugar:

  1. Energize body

Due to the high content of calories, sugar provides energy to the body which is usually lack. Yet all the energy is short lived and provides short bust of raised energy. Sugar per gram offers four calories but lacks nutritious value and due to this sugar is an added ingredient in various meals.

  1. Diabetes

Diabetes is a genetic condition which is conceived from the moment we are born. Intake of bad foods or lot of sweets or fats could lower efficiency of pancreas but when used in moderate amounts there are no health risks.

  1. Skin health

Glycolic acid of sugar is found to be useful for maintaining health or look of skin. It could help to eliminate blemishes and restore skin oils balance.

Health Effects of Sugars

  1. Causes Tooth Decay

Sugars do play a role in dental problems because the bacteria that cause tooth decay thrive on sugar. These bacteria produce acids, which eat away at tooth enamel and can eventually cause cavities and gum disease. Eating sticky foods that adhere to teeth such as caramels, crackers, sugary cereals, and licorice and sipping sweetened beverages over a period of time are two behaviors that increase the risk for tooth decay. This means that people shouldn’t suck on hard candies or caramels, slowly sip soda or juice, or put babies to bed with a bottle unless it contains water. As we have seen, even breast milk contains sugar, which can slowly drip onto the baby s gums. As a result, infants should not routinely be allowed to fall asleep at the breast. To reduce your risk for tooth decay, brush your teeth after each meal, especially after drinking sugary drinks and eating candy. Drinking fluoridated water and using a fluoride toothpaste will also help protect your teeth.

  1. Unhealthful Levels of Blood Lipids

Research evidence suggests that consuming a diet high in sugars, particularly fructose, can lead to unhealthful changes in blood lipids. Briefly, higher intakes of sugars are associated with increases in our blood of both low-density lipoproteins (LDL, commonly referred to as bad cholesterol ) and triglycerides. At the same time, high sugar intake appears to decrease our high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which are protective and are often referred to as good cholesterol. These changes are of concern, as increased levels of triglycerides and LDL and decreased levels of HDL are risk factors for heart disease. However, there is not enough scientific evidence at the present time to state with confidence that eating a diet high in sugar causes heart disease. Still, based on current knowledge, it is prudent for a person at risk for heart disease to eat a diet low in sugars. Because fructose, especially in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, is a component of many processed foods and beverages, careful label reading is advised.

  1. Contribute to Obesity

There is no scientific evidence that eating a diet high in sugar causes diabetes. In fact, studies examining the relationship between sugar intake and type 2 diabetes report no association between sugar intake and diabetes, or an increased risk for diabetes associated with increased sugar intake and weight gain, or a decreased risk for diabetes with increased sugar intake. However, people who have diabetes need to moderate their intake of sugar and closely monitor their blood glucose levels.

There is somewhat more evidence linking sugar intake with obesity. For example, a recent study found that overweight children consumed more sugared soft drinks than did children of normal weight. Another study found that for every extra sugared soft drink a child consumes per day, the risk for obesity increases by 60%. We also know that if you consume more energy than you expend, you will gain weight. It makes intuitive sense that people who consume extra energy from high-sugar foods are at risk for obesity, just as people who consume extra energy from fat or protein gain weight. In addition to the increased potential for obesity, another major concern about high-sugar diets is that they tend to be low in nutrient density because the intake of high-sugar foods tends to replace that of more nutritious foods.

Recommended Intakes of Sugars

Estimates indicate that, on average, each person in the United States consumes about 30 teaspoons (about 120 grams) of sugars a day. Most of the sugars in the average American diet are added to foods and beverages by manufacturers during processing; major sources of added sugars include sugar-sweetened beverages (sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks), desserts, and candy. Some sugars are also added by consumers during food preparation and at the table. Because added sugars deliver calories, but few or no nutrients or fiber, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans urge consumers to “reduce the intake of calories from added sugars.” These added sugar calories (and those from solid fats and alcohol) are considered discretionary calories—and most people need to limit their intake. By reducing the intake of foods and beverages with added sugars, consumers can lower the calorie content of the diet without compromising the nutrient content.


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