Good and bad sugar; what’s the difference?

Good sugar is found naturally in food, bad sugar is added to food. As established in my first post on this topic, this sweet crystal is good for you but in small doses – again, not groundbreaking.

Sugar is also found in almost everything. It can be hard to distinguish between whats good for you, and what’s bad. Leading Harley Street nutritionist, Rhiannon Lambert, explained that “sugar is sugar. Brown, white, honey, coconut etc. are all metabolised by the body in the same way.”

However, the difference between sugars is important when trying to live a healthy lifestyle, Rhiannon went onto explain to me the difference between good and bad options; “Free sugars and added sugars are those that have been added to food. This may be sucrose and glucose in the form of table sugar or it may be naturally present in foods such as honey, syrups and fruit juices.”

Since you cannot extract sugar from dishes, it’s important to examine food labels to see where the sugars have come from and how much is in your meal. For example, sausages flavoured with apples will have a high sweet content due to the amount of natural sugar in apples. However, a frozen apple pie will be high in added sugars alongside free ones found in the fruit, the sugar added to the pastry and sauce bumps up its sweetness.

Ron Baise, Principal Dentist of 92 Dental in London says to me that when it comes to teeth, no sugars are truly good. “The bacteria that cause tooth decay can thrive off of lactose, sucrose, fructose and glucose. However, the simpler sugars (glucose) are worse for your teeth overall as they can be broken down and digested by the bacteria in your mouth faster.

“Generally, whatever sugars you may eat get washed away by saliva and by drinking water. Therefore the bacteria only have a relatively small window to digest the sugar in order to multiply. Because of this, the simpler sugars are going to contribute to a faster growth of harmful bacteria as more of it can be digested by bacteria before it is washed away”

Dentists have told us for years that this sweet crystal is bad for us, this is due to the fuelling growth of bacteria, so high sugar foods such as lollipops are worse for your teeth than apples or oranges. It’s important to look at the differences between sugars. Dentist Baise stated that “common sense should give you a decent idea of whether the food contains natural or processed sugars. Fresh meat, fruit and vegetables shouldn’t contain any processed sugars.”

Naturally occurring sugars found in fruit, meat, vegetables and other sources are better for you than processed options found in chocolate and cakes. The key difference between good and bad options is how it occurs in the food. Sugar will appear in your diet, no matter how much you try to avoid it, what you can do, is avoid added sugars and stick with free ‘good’ sugars.

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