Natural vs Added Sugar: Which is Healthier?

With ever-increasing attention paid to the dangers of sugar, it is easy to believe that consuming any amount, and any type, of this substance, damages your health. Experts say sugar promotes weight gain and increases the likelihood of type 2 diabetes. Sugar consumption leads to high blood pressure and heart disease.

But the fact is, those problems come from excess added sugar in the diet. The sugars that occur naturally in fruit and whole foods are not the same. Natural sugars may not cause the same health problems as added sugar. It can be confusing. This is why it is important to know the difference between added and natural sugar, and the health benefits and dangers of both.

What’s the Difference Between Added and Natural Sugar?

As the name implies, added sugar is any type of sugar that is added into the processing of foodstuffs, including white sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Natural sugars are those sugars that occur in fruits and some vegetables, as well as in dairy products. Natural sugars in fruit and vegetables will always be there, no matter what the processor does. But manufacturers make a choice to add white sugar or high fructose corn syrup, depending on the demands of the recipe or the consumer.

Is Natural Sugar Healthier?

Fruit does not only contain sugar. It also contains other beneficial substances including fibre. Yoghurt doesn’t just contain sugar. It also contains protein. These other nutrients within a food product affect how the body uses sugar. Fibre helps to slow down the digestion of sugar so blood sugar levels do not spike, resulting in inflammation and a heightened risk of the development of chronic diseases. Protein helps your body break down sugar. Added sugar, on the other hand, is just sugar – nothing more. Your body converts it to fat as soon as it is not necessary for energy. It causes inflammation and blood sugar spikes.

Added sugar is less healthy than natural sugar since it is not easily absorbed by the body. And eating a foodstuff containing natural sugar is healthier than consuming one with added sugar since you also get the benefits of the other nutrients.

Should I Avoid Added Sugar?

As with most aspects of nutrition, moderation is key. Your body is not built to exist on one or two ingredients alone. If you were to eat an excessive amount of added sugar your diet would be poor, and you would suffer from health problems. But you don’t need to eliminate added sugar entirely from your diet. Just keep it in moderation and use naturally sweet products where possible. Fruit puree suppliers provide purees as a natural alternative to refined sugar, to help give foods sweetness, for example. Dried fruit is sweet, and you can enjoy it as a healthier alternative. Be careful that your added sugar intake doesn’t rise unexpectedly; check the labels on savoury products like bread and soup to make sure they don’t contain high levels of the sweet substance.