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Can Refined Sugar Be Healthy?

Meela Dudley

Today’s media bombards us with different theories on the causes of “sugar cravings” and how to fight them off. The truth is, the desire for sweet-tasting foods is completely natural! Our tongues are built with an abundance of sweet receptors and our ancestors, in an effort to survive, sought out sugars to supply their bodies with energy.

That being said, unlike our ancestors, today’s population tends to substitute natural sugars found in ripe fruit for refined (or granulated) sugars found in most processed foods.

Have you ever seen “all-natural” products sweetened with organic cane sugar or coconut sugar in the grocery store and considered spending more for them? Don’t be fooled; there is no “healthier” option when it comes to refined sugar products. It makes little to no difference if you’re using table, whole cane, organic, or demerara sugar. Despite the difference in color, taste, and level of processing, the nutritional value of white, brown, and raw sugar is almost entirely the same.

Raw or brown sugars differ from white table sugar because they contain molasses that is typically removed from sugarcane during processing. While some darker sugars are marketed to promote vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are missing from white sugar, these amounts are so minuscule that they do not impact the average person’s daily intake. In fact, many food manufacturers of dark sugar products add molasses back into the sugar to make their products seem more natural and thus “healthier.” These darker sugars contain the same number of calories as slightly more processed white sugars, averaging 16 calories per teaspoon.

Regardless of the type, if you’re trying to improve your health it is best to limit your overall consumption of processed foods and refined sugars. You can still satisfy your sweet tooth while making sound nutritional choices — fresh fruit is naturally sweet and jam-packed with nutrients, fiber, and other health promoting qualities.

Find out how a Noom can help you make healthy swaps that will satisfy your sweet tooth!


3 thoughts on “Can Refined Sugar Be Healthy?”

  1. Fred Carpenter says:

    BRAWNDO – It’s got what plants crave

  2. Antony den Dulk says:

    Is sugar in fruit not the same as refined sugar? In other words, it makes little difference health wise. The only way getting sugar from fruit might be better is that you cannot change the ratio of sugar to non-sugar in fruit.

    I have heard that some farmers put sugar in the water they use on fruit trees to get the fruit to be sweeter – does this make a difference when considering which fruits to eat?

    1. Meela from Noom says:

      Hello Antony – Thank you for your thoughtful response! Natural sugars are found in fruit as fructose and in dairy products as lactose. Refined sugar, when extracted from sugar cane and other sources, is typically found as sucrose (the combination of glucose and fructose). Dietitians generally recommend eating whole foods that are low in refined sugars. Unprocessed foods, such as fruit and vegetables, have antioxidants, fiber, and many other health benefits. Refined sugar is generally packed into processed foods in gratuitous amounts and foods high in added sugars are frequently higher in added fats, sodium, and preservatives. We plan to further explore the impact of natural sugars found in fruit in an upcoming article!

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