Understanding Sugar

Understanding Sugar

Kerry Roberts

At Everipe, we love food. All kinds. The kind that fuels our bodies and the kind that celebrates holidays and birthdays. We were created based on the idea that we're all just trying our best and everything-in-moderation is a balanced approach to nutrition.  But we know the information around sugar can be a complicated. So, we wanted to break things down a bit and shed some light on the great sugar debates. This isn’t about villainizing foods, it’s about making more informed choices. Knowledge is power, right?

We are going to talk about sugar in two ways here: added sugars and naturally occurring sugar. When we say added sugar, we mean anything that was not naturally occurring in the food you’re eating, from the sprinkle of coconut sugar on a grapefruit to the drizzle of honey on a bowl of oatmeal. Here’s a breakdown of what we need to know about each to reasonably navigate a diet that helps us feel well, ward off disease, and maintain our energy. 

Just a Spoonful of Sugar Helps…What, Exactly? 

White sugar has been evicted from many-a-cupboard of health conscious people for more “natural” alternatives like coconut sugar, agave, honey, maple syrup. The benefits of these swaps are highly debated and honestly…sort of confusing. Here’s some info to help it make a bit more sense:

All sugars--from added to natural occurring, refined to fair trade—are comprised of essentially the same three simple sugars (called monosaccharides)—glucose, fructose, and galactose. And together glucose and fructose make sucrose. 

From the the sugar in that ceramic bowl on your grandma’s counter to the organic, fair trade coconut sugar you just picked up at the farmer's market, all sugar is comprised of the exact same molecular foundation, just in different ratios.

  • White refined sugar is sucrose, which is a 50-50 combination of glucose and fructose.

  • Maple sugar is about 2/3 sucrose.

  • Despite frequent claims that coconut sugar is effectively fructose-free, it’s made of 70–80% sucrose, which is half fructose.

  • Agave is often praised for being low glycemic, which it is, because it’s essentially all fructose (with levels higher than high fructose corn syrup!).   

‘Ose you still paying attention? 

The quick and dirty of it is there’s no compelling evidence to show that one type of added sugar is better for you than another…processed or not. Ultimately, our bodies utilize all sugars the same way: it's either used as energy or stored as fat (which can be turned into energy later). Maple syrup, honey, and coconut sugar are less processed than white sugar and contain more nutrition like trace minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants (which isn’t hard to do: white sugar has zero!) but there's no reason to eat them for those health benefits—the nutrition they contain can be obtained in much better ways. Leafy greens, anyone?

Whatever you decide to stock your cabinets with, remember that there is no added sugar that is going to make eating excess sugar okay when it comes to disease prevention and feeling good. It’s in the science: too much of the stuff is very much tied to cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes. 

The Case For (Cellular Intact) Fruit 

Our bodies and brains run on carbohydrates, and sugar is the smallest form of carbs.  We do need some! It’s true that all fruits have naturally occurring sugars in them made up of the same elements described above, but they also contain fiber, antioxidants vitamins, and minerals and tend to have less sugar by volume than sugar-laden treats.  

Fiber is what helps slow down the small intestine from absorbing sugar too quickly.  Because Everipe’s fruits are freeze dried, their cellular structure—and therefore their fiber content—largely remains in tact. This is a very good thing, and one advantage freeze drying has on dried fruit or powders.  Plus, our added superfoods help boost the fiber content of each smoothie to help keep you satisfied for longer and avoid that sugar crash. 

And when it comes to long term health, incorporating fruits into your diet has real health benefits, like lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. But it’s always best to check with your doctor to see what’s best for you. Cheers!