Sugars are not just found in junk and processed foods or all those bakery items. The sugar is very much existent in many types of food items, in a variant manner. There are some sort of sugar in grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, and some nuts. In fact, many types of sugar are found in the diet on a daily basis.
Before we classify the discrete types of sugar it is important to know the two major categories of dietary sugar, these are:
Monosaccharides- Monosaccharides are single unit sugar that is why known as “mono”. These type of sugar contain only one saccharide molecule. The main types of monosaccharides are- glucose, fructose, and galactose.
Disaccharides- Disaccharides are the types of sugar that contain two saccharides molecules in their chemical structure. Examples include- sucrose, lactose, and maltose.
Let’s decode the variants of these two broader categories in brief:
1. Glucose- Glucose is the simplest form of sugar that is obtained majorly from carbohydrates in the diet. It is the main source of energy in the body. When metabolized, one gram of glucose provides 4 kilo calories of energy. When the body uses enough glucose, it converts the remaining glucose into glycogen, which is then stored into the liver and utilized whenever extra energy need arises.
Food sources of glucose- wheat, rice, bread, pasta, potatoes, legumes and other grains.
2. Fructose– Fructose is also known as “fruit sugar”. It is a type of monosaccharide. When consumed, fructose needs to be converted to glucose by liver before it can be used by the body. Fructose can also be present in processed foods like “high fructose corn syrup”. Since the major source of fructose are fruits and vegetables, it is absorbed in a constant gradual manner.
Food sources of fructose- sugarcane, beetroots, maize, apples, grapes, watermelons, bananas, and strawberries.
3. Galactose- Galactose is a type of simple sugar or monosaccharide. Galactose is also known as “milk sugar”. It is regarded as sweet as glucose sugar. Galactose, when consumed is converted into glucose within the body through the action of various enzymes. There are some people who suffer from Galactosemia and are unable to properly breakdown galactose sugar in the body.
Food sources of galactose- milk and milk products like curd and yogurt, avocados, sugar beets and mucilage.
4. Sucrose- Sucrose is simply known as “table sugar”. It is a disaccharide comprising of two molecules- glucose and fructose. The word sucrose is derived from French word sucre meaning sugar. The table sugar comes from plant sources but it is processed in such a way that it offers almost no nutritional value.
Food sources of sucrose- sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) and sugar beets (Beta vulgaris)
5. Lactose- Lactose is a type of disaccharide sugar made of two molecules- galactose and glucose. Lactose makes around 2-8% by weight of milk. It is white coloured slightly sweet kind of a disaccharide. Breast milk contains some amount of lactose too. Humans need an enzyme called lactase to breakdown lactose sugar and those suffering from “lactose intolerance” have inability to digest lactose properly.
Food sources of lactose- Milk and milk products.
6. Maltose- Maltose is also known as “malt sugar” and it is a type of disaccharide sugar made up of two units of glucose. Maltose is the main component of malt which is produced by germination of certain grains.
Food sources of maltose- Bread, sweet potato, honey, confectioneries, and brewed beverages.
Over to you
Not all sugars are bad because not all types of sugar are created equally. While you should completely avoid the consumption of table sugar, the other natural variants of sugar can be consumed in moderation but make sure these are without any processing or additives.