What is Sugar
Sugar is the naturally-occurring nutrient that makes food taste sweet. Sugar is a carbohydrate along with starch.
Carbohydrates are our main source of energy. Starch-rich foods include bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes, whereas sugars are found in fruit and vegetables, honey, jam and many soft drinks.
There are a number of different sugars:
- Glucose and fructose are found in fruit and vegetables
- Milk sugar is known as lactose
- Maltose (malt sugar) is found in malted drinks and beer
- Sucrose comes from sugar cane or beet and is often referred to as 'table' or 'added' sugar. It also occurs naturally in some fruit and vegetable.
These different types of sugar have the same nutritional value.
Starches and sugars provide about four Calories per gram.
A level teaspoon of sugar (4g) provides 16 Calories.
Nutrition experts worldwide recommend that adults and children above the age of two obtain at least 50% of their daily calories from a variety of carbohydrate sources.
Eating sugar is a useful way of increasing carbohydrate intake especially in those with high energy requirements, such as athletes and people employed in physically demanding jobs.
Most people eat starchy foods in combination with fat e.g. butter with bread, creamy sauce with pasta, potatoes fried in oil. However, sugar itself is fat-free, and per gram, contains less than half the calories of fat.
Click here for a printable information sheet on common sugars and the types that can be in ingredient lists.
Read more about sugar in the diet