Sugars 101

 Sugars 101 — Basics of How to Avoid Confusion on This Important Topic

sugars 101It is easy to become confused by the various sugars and sweeteners. So here is a basic overview:

•  Dextrose, fructose, and glucose are all monosaccharides, known as simple sugars. The primary difference between them is how your body metabolizes them. Glucose and dextrose are essentially the same sugar. However, food manufacturers usually use the term “dextrose” in their ingredient list.

•  The simple sugars can combine to form more complex sugars, like the disaccharide sucrose (table sugar), which is half glucose and half fructose.

•  High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose.

•  Ethanol (drinking alcohol) is not a sugar, although beer and wine contain residual sugars and starches, in addition to alcohol.

•  Sugar alcohols like xylitol, glycerol, sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, and erythritol are neither sugars nor alcohols but are becoming increasingly popular as sweeteners. They are incompletely absorbed from your small intestine, for the most part, so they provide fewer calories than sugar but often cause problems with bloating, diarrhea, and flatulence.

•  Sucralose (Splenda) is NOT a sugar, despite its sugar-like name and deceptive marketing slogan, “made from sugar.” It’s a chlorinated artificial sweetener in line with aspartame and saccharin, with detrimental health effects to match.

• Agave syrup, falsely advertised as “natural,” is typically HIGHLY processed and is usually 80 percent fructose. The end product does not even remotely resemble the original agave plant.

•   Honey is about 53 percent fructose2, but is completely natural in its raw form and has many health benefits when used in moderation, including as many antioxidants as spinach.

•  Stevia is a highly sweet herb derived from the leaf of the South American stevia plant, which is completely safe (in its natural form). Lo han (or luohanguo) is another natural sweetener, but derived from a fruit.

One of the primary sources of calories for Americans is sugar—specifically high fructose corn syrup in soda and processed foods. Because of advances in food processing technology in the 1970s, fructose derived from corn has become very cheap and is widely used in the majority of processed foods for increased sales.

Sugar takes a devastating toll on your health. In fact, excessive sugar consumption may be the largest factor underlying obesity and chronic disease in America

Your body metabolizes fructose much differently from glucose; the entire burden of metabolizing fructose falls on your liver, where excess fructose is quickly converted into fat, which explains the weight gain and abdominal obesity experienced by so many Westerners

Fructose is the primary cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver and elevates uric acid, which raises your blood pressure, stresses your kidneys, and leads to the chronic, low-level inflammation that is at the core of most chronic diseases; metabolically speaking, fructose is alcohol “without the buzz”

It would be wise for most people to limit their daily fructose consumption to less than 25 grams per day; a table showing the fructose content of many foods is provided, especially if you show signs of insulin resistance such as being overweight, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.

Article adapted from Mercola.com. For more info and rest of article:
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/20/sugar-dangers.aspx