There are 17 different types of sugar—but this one is truly problematic for your health


Curious to understand exactly how sugar affects your health? We’ve got the intel.

Doctors and healthy eating experts have been crystal clear for a long time that a diet high in sugar is bad news for your body—both in the short and long-term. But the topic is a bit more nuanced than just the simple equation of sugar  = unhealthy. Fortunately, registered dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, is here to spell out the straight facts in the latest episode of Well+Good’s YouTube series, You Versus Food.

Beckerman says there are a whopping 17 different types of sugar that are commonly used in food products, including corn syrup, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, and sucrose. (Try saying all of that three times fast.) “Essentially, these sugars are all the same, they’re just derived from different sources,” she says. That said, she adds that there’s an important distinction to keep in mind: sugar versus added sugar.

“Natural sugars occur in foods such as fruits and veggies that normally have fewer calories and less sodium with a higher water and nutrient content than foods with added sugars,” Beckerman says. Added sugar, meanwhile, has been added to a food during the manufacturing or cooking process. “Sweeteners, or added sugars on their own, do not contain protein or fiber, which causes your body to digest them even faster and spike your blood glucose.” That spike comes with a big crash later on, and consistently uneven blood sugar levels are linked to mood changes, disrupted sleep, and other health issues.

Another bomb Beckerman drops in this sweet episode: not all sugar alternatives are created equal. Want to find out why? Check out the video above. When it comes to this healthy intel, Beckerman isn’t one to (ahem) sugarcoat it.

Other confusing health topics Beckerman sets straight: if oat milk is worth the hype and if the ketogenic diet is actually worth committing to.

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