There’s sugar and then there are sugars. And when it comes to food science and nutrition, it’s important to know the difference to understand what’s in your food.
Both sugar and sugars are listed on the labels of your favourite products, but in different places and with different and very specific meanings.
Sugars all together now
Sugars, plural, is the broadest term. Sugars are a category of simple carbohydrates and they’re found all over the place. They’re found in most plants, honey, and even milk. There’s fructose, a sugar found in fruits; sucrose, which is present in some vegetables; glucose, found in honey; lactose, which is milk sugar. There’s even a sugar found in mushrooms known as trehalose. The amount of sugars in food products is listed on the nutritional facts on the back of the package. In any given product, the sugars can come from many different sources.
Those are just some of the best-known sugars, but there are actually hundreds of them.
On a molecular level, they can be monosaccharides or disaccharides. Monosaccharides are individual sugar molecules, the most common ones in food being fructose, galactose, and glucose. Your gut absorbs monosaccharides into the bloodstream, so these go directly into the bloodstream after you eat them.
Disaccharides, on the other hand, are molecules made of two monosaccharides linked together. Sucrose, or table sugar for example is made of glucose + fructose; lactose or milk sugar is made of glucose + galactose, and maltose or malt sugar is made of glucose + glucose. Your gut cannot absorb these disaccharides directly but first breaks them down into their constituent monosaccharides during digestion.
Though all sugars share the same basic structure and properties, they are significantly different. Try baking a cake with lactose and find out. They’re also processed very differently in the body. Fructose is metabolized in the liver, in a way that’s completely different from how glucose is processed. The digestive enzymes that break down lactose are different than the ones that metabolized sucrose. That’s why people who are lactose intolerant have no problem with sucrose. Finally, many types of disaccharides are not broken-down during digestion, and many monosaccharides are not absorbed and so have a much-reduced impact on the body.
Sugar on its lonesome
Sugars in the plural on a nutritional facts describes the contents of the food, regardless of where the sugars came from. In contrast, sugar in the singular only appears on the ingredients list. That’s because sugar is a specific ingredient. It is only a single type of the sugars — sucrose — from one of only two different sources — sugar cane or sugar beet. Because of this, unlike different sugars, all types of refined sugar behaves very pretty much the same both in food and in the body. Unlike all the different types of sugars, sugar is just one thing.
So, for example, when honey is used as an ingredient, it’s listed as honey, not sugar, on the ingredient list, and yet still counts towards the sugars content on the nutritional label.
It’s possible to have sugars in a recipe, without having sugar. But if your ingredient list has sugar in it, your nutritional facts will count those as sugars in it.
Sugars from fiber to the moon
And that’s what makes Supplant™ sugars from fiber, a new blend of sugars found naturally in fiber, so revolutionary. Supplant™ can perform the roles that refined sugar can do, but because it’s made from fiber, it’s only absorbed to a small extent into the bloodstream. More gradual fluctuations in your blood sugar provide a steadier supply of energy, which is especially helpful for anyone wanting to keep blood sugar levels stable.