The effects of sugar, both natural and artificial, are highly debated. One reason is that the terms "natural" and "artificial" sugar are sometimes used in a confusing manner as manufacturers claim that their artificial sugar is made from natural substances. However, natural sugar is extracted from plants such as sugarcane and beet. The sugar found in honey or fruit is also natural. Artificial sugar is man-made in laboratories with synthetic or natural substances. These two types of sugar have several advantages and disadvantages.
Artificial sugar is used as an alternative to natural sugar such as white sugar and molasses due to its zero calorie levels. A study done by scientists at the University of California indicated that fructose, a natural sugar used to sweeten drinks and fast foods, contributes to and enhances obesity. Individuals who were already fat were given huge quantities of fructose and were found to increase weight around their stomach. This is in comparison to people who were given glucose (artificial sweetener) who put on less weight.
Although an advantage of artificial sugar is that it adds zero calories to the diet, natural sugar such as table sugar has low calories. According to the Sugar Association, table sugar has about 15 calories for every teaspoon of sugar. Fifteen calories can be lost by undertaking daily routines such as showering or styling your hair for about eight minutes each.
Another advantage of artificial sugar is that it does not undermine oral health that leads to conditions such tooth decay. This is because the substances that make up artificial sugar are not conducive for the growth of bacteria. On the contrary, natural sugar from sugarcane which is used in products such as candy is conducive for the production of bacteria in the mouth which leads to plaque and tooth cavities.
Because artificial sugar adds no calories to food, it is easy for people to over-consume foods that claim to have artificial sugar or sweetening. This is a misconception that can in fact lead to an increase in weight because of the increase in food servings that a person consumes. Therefore, artificial sugar does not automatically enable a person to reduce weight, especially if he is over consuming food.
Although the overconsumption of some types of natural sugar such as fructose and sucrose (table sugar) can bring about obesity and diabetes, others have positive attributes. Natural sugar that is produced organically does not have artificial pesticides and herbicides, making it safer to consume. Eating natural organic sugar also contributes to environmental protection and reduction of pollution as less chemicals are used in growing plants such as sugarcane.
- Mayo Clinic: Nutrition and Healthy Eating; Artificial Sweeteners
- Nutrition Diva: Is Natural Sugar Better For You? Monica Reinagel; April 26th 2010;
- Daily Mail: Can Fruit Make You Fat? Natural Sugar In Fruit Is Fuelling the Nation’s Epidemic; David Derbyshire; 4th July 2008;
- The Sugar Association: Examples of Calories Burned; What Would You Do To Burn 15 Calories
About the Author
Alexa Josphine began her writing career in 2005. Her work has appeared in the monthly publication "DRUM" magazine, among other publications. Josphine is pursuing her master's degree in journalism from Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya.
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