What's the difference between added sugars and natural sugars?
Written by Victoria Vasquez, Mayo Clinic registered dietitian
Sugar can be found in a lot of foods such as regular soda, candy, and cereal, but it is also in foods such as fruit and milk. Although these foods all contain sugar, the types of sugar they contain are different. The two types of sugar found in food and beverage items are natural sugar or added sugar. Natural sugar is sugar that is naturally occurring in food such as in fruits and milk. Added sugar is sugar that has been added to food items during processing to sweeten or enhance the flavor. Examples may include regular soda, candy, sugary cereal, sweetened dairy products (such as ice cream and flavored yogurt), and sweetened coffee beverages.
Added Sugar Guidelines
Overconsuming sugar can be bad for our health, so it is recommended to limit the amount of added sugar in the diet. Added sugar adds extra calories and lacks other beneficial nutrients that foods with natural sugar have. The American Heart Association recommends staying below the following amounts for added sugar in the diet:
- Women: less than 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of added sugar a day
- Men: less than 9 teaspoons or 36 grams of added sugar a day
A 12 ounce can of regular Coke contains 39 grams of added sugar, which would exceed the recommendation for men and women for a whole day!
Where to find if a food has added sugar
The nutrition facts label can tell you if a food has added sugar. On the label, total sugar is listed and just below that is the amount of added sugar. If the food item contains no added sugar, then all the sugar in the product is natural sugar. Try to keep the amount of added sugar below the recommendation to help control extra calories your the diet.