December 9, 2019 - Sugar

Posted by Brittney Casalina on

Hello everyone and welcome to our first weekly discussion! This weeks topic is one of my favorites.....SUGAR! Sugar is something that is not very well controlled in our food products in the United States so it is always a surprise for people to hear that there are OVER 60 NAMES FOR SUGAR!  Now, there are too many sugars to really tackle all of them in one discussion so today we will focus Sucrose, Glucose, Fructose and High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Let's dive in to our discussion! Let's start with the basics.

What is Sugar?

According to the Marriam Webster dictionary, Sugar is defined as: : "a sweet crystallizable material that consists wholly or essentially of sucrose, is colorless or white when pure tending to brown when less refined, is obtained commercially from sugarcane or sugar beet and less extensively from sorghum, maples, and palms, and is important as a source of dietary carbohydrate and as a sweetener and preservative of other foods"



You may have heard the term “sucrose” at one point or another—but what is that, really? While it might sound overly technical or even man-made, sucrose is simply the chemical name for sugar, the simple carbohydrate we know and love that is produced naturally in all plants, including fruits, vegetables and even nuts. 
See below of a comparison chart of sugar in foods 


(per 100 grams, edible portion-raw)

sucrose chart

Source: USDA ARS Nutrient Data Laboratory, Food Composition Database

So, we know sugar is sucrose

Sugar is sucrose, but what does it look like? Sugar’s chemical structure is quite simple, as far as molecules go. It contains just two molecules, bound together by mother nature: one molecule of glucose is bound to one molecule of fructose.

Glucose and fructose?

What are glucose and fructose? Well, along with galactose, they’re the three building blocks that make up all forms of carbohydrates. These three simple sugars are also known as monosaccharides. They bond with each other and themselves to make more complex carbohydrates. All carbohydrates are made up of one or more molecules of sugars. No matter how complex a carbohydrate is to start with, once in the body, all carbohydrates are broken down to these three simple sugars: glucose, fructose and galactose

So, in a nutshell, sugar is just a carbohydrate

Carbohydrates, along with fat and protein, are macronutrients that provide the body with energy. Carbohydrates are found in all plant and dairy foods and beverages that provide your body with calories.


This information is from of


Now that we know sugar, or sucrose, is made up of glucose and fructose, let's talk about these two sugars!


Glucose is a simple sugar or monosaccharide. It’s your body’s preferred carb-based energy sourceTrusted Sourc.

Monosaccharides are made up of one single unit of sugar and thus cannot be broken down into simpler compounds.

They’re the building blocks of carbohydrates.

In foods, glucose is most commonly bound to another simple sugar to form either polysaccharide starches or disaccharides, such as sucrose and lactoseTrusted Sour.

It’s often added to processed foods in the form of dextrose, which is extracted from cornstarch.

Glucose is less sweet than fructose and sucrose.


Fructose, or “fruit sugar,” is a monosaccharide like glucose.

It’s naturally found in fruit, honey, agave and most root vegetables. Moreover, it’s commonly added to processed foods in the form of high-fructose corn syrup.

Fructose is sourced from sugar cane, sugar beets and corn. High-fructose corn syrup is made from cornstarch and contains more fructose than glucose, compared to regular corn syrup.

Of the three sugars, fructose has the sweetest taste but least impact on your blood sugar.

They’re Digested and Absorbed Differently

Your body digests and absorbs monosaccharides and disaccharides differently.

Since monosaccharides are already in their simplest form, they don’t need to be broken down before your body can use them. They’re absorbed directly into your bloodstream, primarily in your small intestine.

On the other hand, disaccharides like sucrose must be broken down into simple sugars before they can be absorbed.

Once the sugars are in their simplest form, they’re metabolized differently.

Glucose Absorption and Use

Glucose is absorbed directly across the lining of the small intestine into your bloodstream, which delivers it to your cells.

It raises blood sugar more quickly than other sugars, which stimulates the release of insulin.

Insulin is needed for glucose to enter your cells.

Once inside your cells, glucose is either used immediately to create energy or turned into glycogen to be stored in your muscles or liver for future use.

Your body tightly controls your blood sugar levels. When they get too low, glycogen is broken down into glucose and released into your blood to be used for energy.

If glucose is unavailable, your liver can make this type of sugar from other fuel sources.

Fructose Absorption and Use

Like glucose, fructose is absorbed directly into your bloodstream from the small intestine.

It raises blood sugar levels more gradually than glucose and does not appear to immediately impact insulin levels.

However, even though fructose doesn’t raise your blood sugar right away, it may have more long-term negative effects.

Your liver has to convert fructose into glucose before your body can use it for energy.

Eating large amounts of fructose on a high-calorie diet can raise blood triglyceride levels.

Excessive fructose intake may also raise the risk of metabolic syndrome and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Sucrose Absorption and Use

Since sucrose is a disaccharide, it must be broken down before your body can use it.

Enzymes in your mouth partially break down sucrose into glucose and fructose, and acid in your stomach breaks it down further. However, the majority of sugar digestion happens in the small intestine.

The enzyme sucrase, which is made by the lining of your small intestine, splits sucrose into glucose and fructose. They are then absorbed into your bloodstream as described above.

The presence of glucose increases the amount of fructose that is absorbed and also stimulates the release of insulin. This means that more fructose is used to create fat, compared to when this type of sugar is eaten alone.

Therefore, eating fructose and glucose together may harm your health more than eating them separately. This may explain why added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup are linked to various health issues.

So basically, Glucose and fructose are absorbed directly into your bloodstream, while sucrose must be broken down first. Glucose is used for energy or stored as glycogen. Fructose is converted to glucose or stored as fat.

Fructose has been linked to several negative health effects, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and fatty liver disease. Consuming fructose may also increase feelings of hunger and sugar cravings.


This information and more is found at :


High Fructose Corn Syrup

You hear about high-fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, all the time. But do you actually know what the ingredient is, or how it affects your health? In this video, we’re bringing you all the info you need to know about the buzzed-about sweetener, including the foods it’s hiding in and the maximum amount you should consume daily.

HFCS, which is commonly found in sodas, desserts, and certain breakfast cereals, is often criticized for its contribution to America’s obesity epidemic. It’s also been linked with chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers.

The sweetener is made from processed corn starch. Starches are made of long chains of linked sugars, and HFCS is produced by breaking down the starch into a syrup made of the sugar glucose. Manufacturers then add enzymes to the substance to convert some of the glucose into fructose, which tastes much sweeter.

Why don’t brands just use regular table sugar? HFCS is much cheaper, hence why it became so popular starting in the 1970s. But the affordable ingredient also comes with a catch. Studies have shown that animals who eat a diet high in HFCS gain more weight than those who don’t. Even worse, the ingredient doesn’t fill them up, so it makes them more likely to overeat.

HFCS is similar to table sugar in its ratio of fructose to glucose, and both sweeteners contain four calories per gram. So while the syrup may not be any worse than regular sugar, both contribute to health concerns like weight gain and diabetes.


Check out this video about High Fructose Corn Syrup from



Now that we have gone over the most common types of sugars, I want to open the discussion to everyone. Where do you think we all went wrong with our sugar consumption in our everyday lives? How do you feel these types of sugars can and do impact your body and why do you think the sugar industry has been able to incorporate these sugars into the average American's diet! All comments, questions and concerns are welcomed! Let's get this discussion going! 




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