Have you ever wondered why your plain yogurt contains 10 grams of sugar? Or whether the “fruit juice concentrate” in your power bar is a better form of sugar than table sugar (sucrose)? These are questions I receive quite often, so it’s time for a quick review.
Carbohydrates (Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen bound together) come in two forms:
- Simple mono- or disaccharides (glucose, fructose, galactose, maltose, sucrose, and lactose)
- Complex polysaccharides (starches such as legumes, corn, potatoes, bread, and cereals)
- Fiber? On food labels, fiber is considered a carbohydrate. This is because fiber is a type of polysaccharide, which plays a structural role in plants. Humans cannot digest fiber.
When you look at a food label, this is what you see:
When you look at a label for milk or plain yogurt, you may see this:
Strange? You wouldn’t think milk or plain yogurt would have any sugar, but lactose (a type of simple sugar) is found in all dairy products. On the food label it is considered a carbohydrate, and is under the sub-category “sugar”. In my opinion, there should be an alternative sub-category called “Added Sugar”. Would you know that the plain yogurt above has zero added sugar? Many of you may have know that, but some may have not. In fact, the typical amount of lactose found in dairy products is about 12 grams per serving.
What about this “Just Fruit Bar”?
According to the nutrition facts, this one bar has 35 grams of carbohydrate, 6 grams of which are from fiber (nice!), and 23 grams of which are from sugar. In this case, the sugar is in the form of fructose. Is it any more healthy since it’s in the form of the “fruit sugar, fructose”? Not really.
Yes this is a less processed form of fructose than HFCS, but if you were to eat a serving of fruit, which is what this bar is trying to mimic, you would only be consuming about 15 grams of fructose, not 23. You’d also be getting a lot of phytonutrients, which do not survive the heat it takes to create a “fruit juice concentrate”.
Bottom Line: Carbohydrates are best in their most natural form; whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products. Limit your added sugars (from the extra sugar companies add to their products, other than the naturally occurring lactose and fructose) to 26 grams for females, and 37 for males.
Tomorrow I will post a new recipe and my thoughts on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution form Friday. Did you watch?! I also have an interesting post about Kashi, and whole grains coming up this week.