Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that is composed of molecules of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. When carbohydrates are broken down through digestion they become a source of energy for the body..
There are two types of carbohydrates, known as either simple carbohydrates or complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are made of either one molecule of sugar or two molecules of sugar. Complex carbohydrates are made up of three or more sugar molecules.
The simplest type of sugar is called a monosaccharide or simple sugar. Examples of this type of sugar are:
Glucose – comes from plants and the body uses it for energy.
Fructose – comes from honey, fruits and some root vegetables and can only be broken down by the liver.
Galactose – mainly found in peas and is structurally a variant of glucose.
Another type of simple sugar is a disaccharide which are formed when two monosaccharides are joined together. Examples of this type of sugar are:
Sucrose – comes from the combination of glucose and fructose and is found in sugar beets, often called table sugar.
Lactose – found in dairy products and is a combination of glucose and galactose.
Maltose – is composed of two molecules of glucose and found in some grains.
Some sugars are found in food naturally while other sugars are added to food when they are processed to add color and flavor. Regardless of sugar’s source, the body will metabolize it the same way. Sugar that is found naturally in fruit usually is in small enough quantities that it isn’t harmful. Added sugars are processed and do not provide any benefits to our health.
Consuming too much sugar can have detrimental effects on the body. This includes obesity, dental cavities, and diabetes. It is important to limit the amount of any type of sugar that is consumed on a daily basis in order to avoid these negative effects.
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