Types of Sugar

Different Sugars
Different Sugars

Sweeteners and sugars
The term sugar is used to describe a wide range of compounds that vary in sweetness.

Common types of sugars are :

  • Glucose
  • Fructose
  • Galactose
  • Sucrose (common table sugar)
  • Lactose (the sugar found naturally in milk)
  • Maltose (product of digestion of starch)

Sugars are found naturally in dairy products (lactose) and in fruits (fructose). There are many types of the sugar in American food comes from that are added to food products.

Some of the functions of sugars include:

  • They provide the sweet flavor when added to food.
  • They preserve the freshness and quality of the product.
  • They act as preservatives in jams and jellies.
  • They improve the flavor in processed meats.
  • Provide fermentation for breads and pickles
  • They add volume to ice creams and give body to carbonated drinks.
  • Foods that contain natural sugars (such as fruits) also include vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Many foods with added sugars often provide calories without nutrients. These foods and drinks are often called “empty” calories.

Most people know that there is a lot of added sugar in soft drinks. However, popular “vitamin” waters, sports drinks, coffee drinks, and energy drinks can also contain a lot of sugar. Some sweeteners are made by processing the sugar compounds. Others occur naturally.

Sucrose (table sugar):

Sucrose is produced from the low sugar juice of beets or sugar cane. It is made up of about one-half glucose and one-half fructose. It includes unrefined sugar, granulated sugar, brown sugar, pastry sugar and turbinado sugar(natural brown sugar).
Unrefined sugar is granular, solid, or coarse. It has a brown color. Unrefined sugar is the solid part that remains when the liquid from the sugarcane juice evaporates.

Brown sugar is made from sugar crystals obtained from syrup from molasses. It is also produced by adding molasses to granulated white sugar.

Pastry sugar (also known as powdered sugar) is finely ground sucrose.

Turbinated sugar(natural brown sugar) is less refined sugar that still retains some of its molasses.Unrefined sugar and brown sugar are no healthier than granulated white sugar.

Other commonly used sugars:

Fructose (fruit sugar)

Fructose is the sugar that occurs naturally in all fruits. Also called levulose or fruit sugar.

Honey is a combination of fructose, glucose, and water. It is produced by bees.
Corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup are sugars made from corn. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup have almost the same level of sweetness. High fructose corn syrup is often used in soft drinks, baked goods, and some canned goods.

Sugar alcohols

Sugar alcohols include mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol.

These sweeteners are used as an ingredient in many food products that are labeled “sugar free,” “diabetic,” or “low carb.” These sweeteners are absorbed by the body at a much slower rate than sugar. Plus, they have about half the calories of sugar. They should not be confused with sugar substitutes that have no calories. Sugar alcohol can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea in some people.


is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in fruits and fermented foods. It has 60% to 70% of the sweetness of table sugar; however, it has fewer calories. In addition, it does not cause much elevation of blood sugar after meals, nor does it cause tooth decay. Unlike other sugar alcohols, it does not cause an upset stomach.

Other types of sugars (natural):

Agave nectar is a highly processed type of sugar from the Agave tequiliana (tequila) plant. Agave nectar is about 1.5 times sweeter than regular sugar. It has about 60 calories per tablespoon, compared to 40 calories for the same amount of table sugar. This nectar is no healthier than honey, sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or any other type of sweetener.

Glucose is found in fruits in small amounts. It is also a syrup formed from corn starch.

Lactose (milk sugar) is the carbohydrate found in milk. It is made up of glucose and galactose.

Maltose (malt sugar) is produced during the fermentation process. It is found in beer and bread.

Molasses is obtained from the residue of sugar cane processing.

Stevia sweeteners are high intensity extracts from the plant with the same name that the FDA recognizes as healthy. Stevia is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar.

Monk fruit sweetener is extracted from this fruit. It has no calories per serving and is 150 to 200 times sweeter than sugar.