We have developed a whole new food category at The Supplant Company, to rival sugar itself: sugars from fiber, a new ingredient that is better for human health, and better for the planet. Sourced from upcycled agricultural plant fiber, sugars from fiber has less than half the calories of refined sugar, and a lower glycemic response compared to glucose. In addition, its fiber content gives it prebiotic properties, making it better for gut health.
This new ingredient also helps protect the planet: because it is made from otherwise-unused or low-value agricultural fiber, it helps make farmland more productive, thereby helping to slow deforestation and biodiversity loss.
Sugars from fiber can help us more easily stay within recommended guidelines for healthy eating, while still enjoying foods we love, because it possesses nutritional and environmental benefits that refined sugars just can’t match.
But enough about us, what about the rest of the sugars out there?
Refined Sugar Has Many Names
While refined sugar comes under numerous names on food labels, it’s all essentially the same, explains the University of California — San Francisco’s SugarScience initiative. Terms like barley malt, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, muscovado, and saccharose are just a few examples of the 61 different names for sugar that the university has documented.
Regardless of what it’s called, our bodies metabolize all of these sugars the same way. According to the Harvard Medical School, what really matters is the amount we take in. When thinking about that amount, it’s important to pay attention to sugar that’s already present in food, and the extra sugar that’s added to food.
Sugar That’s Already There
Sugars are normally found in fruits and vegetables, milk, and fermented grains, and are part of the natural state of these foods. These sugars can be scientifically categorized into two groups: Monosaccharides, such as glucose, fructose, and galactose, contain one sugar molecule in their overall makeup. Disaccharides like sucrose, lactose, and maltose contain two sugar molecules. You can read more about these different sugars in an earlier post.
Our bodies digest these sugars and use them for energy, and also benefit from the other nutrients found in the food they’re in. For example, an apple tastes sweet because it contains fructose, but it also contains both soluble and insoluble fiber to help balance that sugar out when it’s digested. We don’t get as much of a “sugar high” from sugars that are already present in foods, because there is typically only a small amount and the fiber present lowers the response to these sugars.
Sugars that are Added Later
However, an estimated 74% of packaged foods include some amount of added sugars. These are often refined sugars used to provide additional sweetness or bulk — one common example is cane sugar in baked goods, candies, or sodas. Because these sugars are typically refined to the point that they contain few or no original nutrients, they provide food energy in the form of calories, but no other nutritional benefits.
The World Health Organization warns that too much additional refined sugar in our diets can cause health impacts. The “empty” calories it provides create more energy than most people need, so that energy is stored as fat, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that “too many added sugars can contribute to health problems such as weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.”
The WHO’s health guidelines recommend people eat no more than five to 10 teaspoons of added sugar per day. That amount includes any sugar added to soft drinks, baked goods, and other packaged products, as well as the spoonful of sugar you might stir into your morning coffee. Because there are so many types of added sugars, and so many different names for them, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises consumers to read nutrition labels to determine how much total, and added, sugar is contained in any particular food.
You can read more about the difference between refined sugars and sugars from fiber in an earlier blog post.
Want to try sugars from fiber for yourself? Visit shop.supplant.com.