Natural Sugars vs Added Sugars Part 1: What’s the Difference?


As a society, we are constantly bombarded with the idea that sugar is bad for us. The term ‘sugar’, however, can be broken down into two main categories that may change our perception and understanding of its existence.

Natural Sugar

Natural sugars are found in two main forms: fructose and lactose. Fructose is the type of sugar found in fruit whereas lactose is the type of sugar found in milk. Both are naturally occurring sugars that do not need to be actively avoided. The dairy and fruit products that contain these types of sugar contain so many other vitamins and nutrients that are important for our bodies. In addition, naturally occurring sugars tend to have a smaller effect on blood sugar as opposed to added sugars.

FOR EXAMPLE: A medium-sized apple contains 19 grams of sugar. All the sugar is naturally occurring, and apples are also good sources of fiber and vitamin C.

Added Sugar

Added sugars, simply put, are everything else. If a food contains sugar that is not naturally occurring, it has been added. Added sugars go by many names and are found in all sorts of foods. One of the most common and easily recognized added sugars is high fructose corn syrup. Added sugars are frequently found in candy, desserts, sauces, soda and other sweet foods and beverages. While added sugars are okay in moderation, they contain no essential nutrients and increase calorie intake. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for America recommend that no more than 10% of daily calorie intake should come from added sugars.

FOR EXAMPLE: 12 oz of a cola soft drink contains 39 grams of sugar. There are no other nutrients in the soda that are beneficial to the body.

Here are some additional information links about added sugars: