Part 1: Sugar. Are some forms better than others?

Sugars are found in many of our foods. Sugar is one of the body’s main energy sources, so we need to eat some sugar as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. So why are some foods that contain sugar better than others?

To answer this question there are three things we should be asking ourselves:

1. What other nutrients are we getting?

Let’s take an orange for example – oranges contain natural fruit sugars (fructose); they are also loaded with fiber, vitamin C, water and other nutrients. If we then look at orange juice we only get the sugar, water and vitamin C without the other essential nutrients and fiber. On the other hand, orange cordial is high in sugar but does not contain any other nutrients.

2.How much sugar are we consuming?

Most of us would be quite satisfied with an orange as a snack. An orange contains approximately 3 teaspoons of natural sugar in addition to the nutrients and fiber. There are roughly 4 oranges in 1 glass of orange juice which is equivalent of 12 teaspoons of sugar with minimal fiber. The lack of fiber in juice makes it very easy for us to consume large amounts which leads to an increase in kilojoules and sugars which are easily digested and absorbed.

3. Is the food source liquid or solid or processed?

This will affect how much we eat and how quickly we can consume the sugars. Consuming large quantities of sugar at a time leads to spikes in our blood sugar levels. These spikes in our sugar levels are then followed by dramatic drops in our blood sugar. The brain then triggers off a response for more sugar resulting in an increased craving for sugar. Complex carbohydrates such a whole fruits and vegetables makes it harder for our bodies to access these natural sugars therefore we get a slower release of sugar in our blood streams which then keeps us satisfied for longer.

The bottom line.

We should be consuming sugar in its natural form (fruit, vegetables, dairy) and limiting processed foods. Think of processing as a form of digestion, our bodies have to work less to then access the sugars. 


Keep an eye out for Part 2 of the Sugar Series: Let’s look at how our body uses sugar.