TYPE OF SUGAR WHAT IT IS Beet sugar Sucrose produced from sugar beets Brown sugar White sugar covered with a film of molasses Coconut sugar A nutrient-dense, low-glycemic sugar made from the sap of coconut flowers Corn syrup A sweetener made of glucose and water; produced by processing cornstarch to yield glucose. Fructose Also called fruit sugar; found in fruit, some vegetables, honey, sugar cane, sugar beets, and other plants. Glucose A sugar used by all living cells for energy High-Fructose Corn Syrup A man-made liquid sweetener used in foods and beverages; produced by processing cornstarch to yield glucose, then processing that glucose to produce a high percentage of fructose. Molasses An end product of sugar cane refining. Raw sugar Also called turbinado sugar; a partially refined sugar extracted from cane juice; usually processed further to yield refined sugar (sucrose) and molasses. Sucrose (table sugar) Commonly known as sugar and table sugar; a chemical combination of glucose and fructose, refined from sugarcane or sugar beets.
So what’s the bottom line? What does that all mean?
Stick to natural sugars. Avoid high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a sweetener dumped into many foods. Two articles published in a 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest that HFCS and products containing it may contribute to America’s epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes. When scientists investigated our food consumption patterns over the past 35 years, they discovered that between 1970 and 1990, consumption of HFCS rose by 1,000 percent—a trend that parallels the rise in obesity. Another alarming piece of recent research has revealed that pancreatic tumor cells use fructose to divide and proliferate. That’s the latest word from a team of researchers at UCLA, who published their study in the journal Cancer Research.
The researchers grew pancreatic cancer cells in lab dishes and fed them both glucose and fructose, and the cells used fructose to proliferate. Although it’s found naturally in fruits, fructose is also a component of HFCS.
All of this makes the practice of reading food labels very important. Always check labels for added fructose as well as HFCS, which lurks in many processed foods—including ketchup and other condiments, sauces, salad dressing, jams, peanut butter, meat products, and commercially produced desserts.