Natural vs. Processed/Added Sugar

First let's look at the difference between the two: Naturally occurring sugars are part of a whole food - like the lactose in milk, or the fructose in fruit. Added sugars are sugars removed from their original source and added to food during the manufacturing process to “improve” the taste.

Added sugars provide unnecessary calories and typically very little if any helpful nutrients.  Foods that contain natural sugar provide essential vitamins, minerals and fiber, which slows digestion and helps keep you feeling full. These natural sugars also help fuel your brain. Natural sugars also act differently in the body thanks to the protein, fiber, and water content accompanying them in a whole food, and are lower on the glycemic index than added sugars (which basically means that your body doesn’t absorb the sugar as fast, and your blood sugar doesn’t “spike” and then “crash” as a result).

REMINDER:  it is still important to watch your portion sizes regardless of the kind of sugar, fat, or nutrients your consuming.  Too many calories = weight gain.
To help explain the difference:  Below are 2 menu’s both containing a similar amount of sugar.  The difference is Menu #1 contains added sugar and Menu #2 contains natural sugar:

#1 = 1 16oz vanilla latte (35 grams of added sugar + 250 calories) and a blueberry scone (22 grams of added sugar + 420 calories) from Starbucks.  Total grams of sugar = 57 & 670 Calories (approximately 14 teaspoons of sugar).

#2 = 1 Cup Strawberries (7 grams of natural sugar + 48 Calories), 1 orange (13 grams of natural sugar +80 calories) 1 apple (7 grams of natural sugar+ 77 calories), 1 entire head of cauliflower (11 grams of natural sugar + 155 calories), 5 cups of spinach (0.5 grams of natural sugar + 35 calories), 2 cups chopped tomatoes (8 grams of natural sugar + 64 calories).  Total grams of sugar = 57.5 and 459 calories (approximately 14 teaspoons of sugar).

#2 obviously is more than one would ever imagine consuming at one time but look at how much nutrition comes along with the 57 grams of natural sugar and 459 calories.  #1 is eaten in one setting, has very little nutrition, and it leaves you hungry for more. Here is a great link for more details about the sugar in fruits and veggies.  

Below is a list of some fruits and veggies that contain lower sugar options when deciding what kind of produce to buy.

Fruits:  avocados, rhubarb, lemons and limes, cranberries (unsweetened obviously), raspberries, strawberries, grapefruit, papayas, cantaloupe, nectarines, honeydew melon, peaches, blueberries, oranges, clementines, guavas, and plums and pineapple. All of these have less than 10 grams of natural sugar per 100-gram serving.  

Vegetables:  mushrooms, watercress, endive, spinach and other leafy greens, cauliflower, radicchio, snap beans, different types of cabbage, artichokes, asparagus, kale and Swiss chard, celery, broccoli, summer squash, okra, cucumber, Brussels sprouts, and winter squash. All have less than 2 grams of natural sugar in 100 grams.  

I’m hopeful that the next time you're making a food choice this post will pop into your head and you will mindfully pick the more nutritious option!  You will benefit and every good choice matters!

Enjoy your fruits and veggies!