Okay so what in the world is the difference between added sugar and natural sugar. Im sure we have all asked ourselves this as it can be SO confusing and everyone has a different opinion and perspective… drumroll please here is the science based answer to this question…

Believe it or not ALL sugars added or natural are processed the same, the main difference is, are you getting nutrients with those calories. With added sugars there are no other nutrients you are getting, just sugar, thus we should limit the amount of added sugar as we want to eat and the most nutrients dense food as often as we can.

The types of sugar include:

Lactose- natural sugar found in cow’s milk dairy products

Fructose- natural sugar found in fruit and 100% fruit juices

Sucrose (table sugar) – added sugar

Natural Sugars

Are only found in real fruit, 100% fruit juice and dairy products. Please note flavored yogurts and milk are most likely to have added sugar, but if you have plain versions, the sugar found is indeed natural

Examples of added sugar- prepare yourself…..

  • Honey – yes honey, it has nutrients, but you would have to consume A LOT to get a reasonable amount of nutrients from honey and that would be too much sugar for the body per WHO guidelines and recommendations.
  • Real maple syrup
  • Agave nectar
  • Cane sugar
  • White sugar
  • High Fructose corn syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Soda
  • Sweetened beverages
  • Organic sugar
  • Raw sugars

Sugar Recommendations:

Here are the recommendations from public health agencies, remember you don’t have to give your children this much added sugar on a daily basis, this is the maximum amount 😉

  • Adults should have no more than 30g of free sugars a day
  • Children aged 7 to 10 should have no more than 24g of free sugars a day
  • Children aged 4 to 6 should have no more than 19g of free sugars a day
  • There’s no guideline limit for children under the age of 4, but it’s recommended they avoid sugar-sweetened drinks and food with sugar added to it. 

*remember there are 4g of sugar per tsp

Look for the above sources of added sugars in ingredients lists. Despite something having a front package label stating “no added sugar” there can still be added sugar. This is very confusing and unfortunate, I know, but this is the reality here in Kenya.

Glucose (added sugar)
Fructose (natural sugar)
Dextrose (added sugar)
Lactose (natural sugar)
Maltose (added sugar)
Sucrose (added sugar)
Cane juice (added sugar)
High fructose corn syrup (added sugar)
Molasses (added sugar)
Corn sweetener (added sugar)
Honey (added sugar)
Real Maple Syrup (added sugar)
Fruit juice concentrate (added sugar)
Evaporated cane juice (added sugar)
Organic Raw Cane Sugar (added sugar)
Agave Nectar (added sugar)  

To expand upon the list above, here are other terms to look for on the label and in the ingredient list. These are examples of other terms that mean “sugar.”

Watch out for these foods and ensure that you are choosing varieties with no added sugar as many of these have large amounts of added sugar no matter how healthy they sound: flavored yogurt, flavored milk, juices, sports drinks, soda, sweetened beverages, shakes, smoothies, granola bars, breakfast cereals, sweetened breads, biscuits, jellies, jams, cookies, cakes, donuts, ice cream- all desserts and the list goes on…..the main point is to be very aware and conscious of what your foods are composed of so that you can make an educated and empowered decision.

And remember all foods fit in moderation, so please don’t take away your child’s birthday cake, it is all part of having a healthy relationship with food 😊



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