It’s common knowledge that too much sugar is bad for you, but few of us actually understand the difference between natural and processed sugars. That’s likely to change, thanks in part to new labeling requirements. A new label is coming in 2018, which will give consumers more information than ever before about the nutritional value of their food. The most significant change will be a separate line showing how much sugar has been added to the food your purchasing. The amount of added sugar will be expressed in grams and as a percentage of a daily value. Currently the labels don’t differentiate between natural or processed (added) sugar, leaving consumers unaware of how much of each they are consuming.
Natural vs. Processed: Which is better?
- Natural sugars are found everywhere, from apples to broccoli to honey; our bodies rely on these sugars to carry out every day vital functions.
- Processed sugar are added to products to increase shelf life, improve flavor, and change taste. Our bodies can use these sugars to carry out everyday functions; however, when these sugars are consumed in excess, they can cause problems.
- The main difference between the two is how your body receives each. For example, eating an apple equips your body with natural sugar, nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, and natural sugar. Drinking apple juice only yields processed sugar, which is ingested by the body without the additional benefits an apple offers.
Overall, although processed sugars are less healthy than natural sugars, both can and should be had in moderation. A good way to think about it is comparing it to putting gas in your car. While there are multiple types of gas you can fill your car, some types are higher quality than others. In the same sense, although your body processes the sugars the same, natural sugars usually come in higher quality, healthy foods.
The new label change reflects this idea by giving you more information about the amount of sugar you are ingesting. As a better informed consumer, you can make better decisions on your sugar intake, your diet, and, ultimately, your health.