Sugar is bad. Sugar is unhealthy. Sugar makes you sick. At the same time, more and more sugars and sweeteners are appearing on the market that present themselves as healthy sugar alternatives. Who still has an overview and what is true at all?
We have fought our way through the sugar jungle for you and try to give you a brief overview below. First things first, let's start with the basics! First of all, we want to explain to you what sugar actually is and why a high sugar consumption is so dangerous.
Let's start with the definition of sugar. Disclaimer up front: Some technical terms follow, but don't worry, we'll keep it simple, we promise. When people talk about sugar, they usually mean the typical household sugar (sucrose). This consists of 2 sugar molecules, namely glucose and fructose. In general, sugar can consist of very long molecular chains; this is the case, for example, with starch. The longer the chain, the less sweet the sugar tastes. The sweet taste only appears when the molecule chains are broken up - for example by chewing for a long time.
You can remember three parameters for this:
The glycemic index (GI):
The GI indicates how quickly sugar causes our blood sugar levels (BSL) to skyrocket. The GI ranges from 0 to 100, and the lower it is, the slower the BSL rises, and therefore the better. A rapid rise in blood sugar causes an insulin response, which causes the blood sugar level to drop again rapidly. And to this stormy up and down the body reacts with ravenous hunger and as we all know, this is not such a nice feeling.
Glucose has a GI of 100, fructose one of 25.
Rule of thumb: GI<50, in order to keep the BSL as constant as possible.
The fructose content:
In the first moment one would think, fructose or colloquially fruit sugar is not so bad, after all fructose is also in many kinds of fruit. Yes, fructose is found in pretty much all types of fruit, but in a special, bound form (to put it simply). That is the crucial difference.
Fructose, which is found in all fruit juices, lemonades and various sweets, is present in an isolated form and is harmful to our body and especially to the intestinal flora.
Fructose is metabolized exclusively by the liver - and the liver can hardly keep up with such an oversupply, so that the excess fructose is converted into fat. This is also known as fatty liver.
Rule of thumb: <50g fructose/day
The energy density or calorie content:
Sugar is usually a very energy-rich or dense food, which means that it has quite a high calorie content per 100g. This is not bad per se. Nuts, for example, even have a much higher calorie content, but they also have many important nutrients and minerals. Something you can't exactly say about sugar.
That's why we also talk about "empty calories" here.
Now that we have successfully dealt with the basics, we can turn to the exciting question: Which is the best sugar? In another article, we took a look at the full range of sugars and sweeteners currently available on the German market.