Natural Vs Refined Sugar: The nutritionist decodes the difference

Excessive sugar consumption can lead to weight gain


  • White sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar are forms of refined sugar
  • Fruits can give you natural sugar
  • The grains are lower in natural sugar

Sugar is simply a form of simple carbohydrate that the body converts into glucose and uses it for energy. But the effect on the body and on general health depends on the type of sugar you consume, either natural or refined. Natural sugars are found in fruits such as fructose and lactose in dairy products such as milk and cheese. They contain essential nutrients that keep the body healthy and help prevent disease. Natural sources of sugar are digested more slowly and help you feel full longer. It also helps keep your metabolism stable.

Natural vs. refined sugar

Refined sugar, such as: white sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, coconut sugar, palm sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc. All these sugars come mainly from plants, but have been processed in a way in a simple, sweet form, so they are processed or refined. Due to which an increase in the consumption of refined sugar has led to increased rates of obesity, which is associated with higher risks of cancer.

Fiber is a huge key.

When fruit sugar is taken up, the fiber that comes with it slows down the rate of sugar absorption. This is because the natural sugars found in whole foods do not increase blood sugar levels as fast as refined sugar. Addition, to help slow down the absorption of fruit even more, is the association of fruit with a meal, including a protein.

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Berries, such as strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, are the lowest in natural sugar, while the largest are dried fruits, bananas and mangoes. Fruit juices are also high in sugar, so opt for whole fruits. Even if we consume the same number of calories from whole fruits and juices, the metabolic effects are very different. Thus, metabolically speaking, the juice is more or less similar to soda than it is to whole fruits.


The fruits are loaded with sugar and natural fibers
Photo credit: iStock

Metabolism matters

The way the body metabolizes sugar from fruit and milk differs from the way it metabolizes refined sugar added to processed foods. The body quickly breaks down refined sugar, causing insulin and blood sugar levels to rise. Because refined sugar is digested quickly, you don’t feel full after you’ve finished eating, no matter how many calories you’ve consumed. Therefore, the fiber present in fruits reduces metabolism, because the fruits in the digestive tract expand to make you feel full.

To better understand added and natural sugar, the best advice we have now is to simply eat less sugar, with all the fruit as a notable exception to this rule. Ideally, our diets should be low in sugar and high in fiber, consisting mainly of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Read also: Signs and symptoms that you have too much sugar

Thus, there are not too many differences between the sugar present in foods naturally and the added one. However, the way it is presented to the body, what comes with it and the amount is masks a very big difference.

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