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Six Surprisingly Simple Sugars

It's sweet.

It's delicious.

...but it's addictive.

It's found naturally,

...but its mass-produced and altered.

It's a runner's best friend,

...but it's the cause of chronic health concerns.

Indeed, sugar is one of the nutrition industry's most controversial topics.

In one of my recent blog posts, "What is means to FUEL" I mentioned that sugar can be considered "high octane" fuel for an athletes' performance. Yet, for others, too much sugar can lead to leads to diabetes, obesity, heart disease and more, being a barrier in their road to good health. The polarity of sugar's effects often leaves people stopped in their tracks, unsure of what to do and where to turn.

Eat less? Eat none at all?

Eat different types? Eat only natural sugars?

The answer to these questions is often individual to your diet, lifestyle, exercises level, genetics, and personal preferences. But not everybody has the time, money or resources to work with a dietitian and figure out what is best for them.

Sugars are often called "simple sugars" due to their simplicity in the world of organic chemistry. And although most would agree that organic chemistry is one of the most challenging college courses, you may be surprised to find out that sugar's use and role in the body truly is... simple.

The answers to your sugar questions may be as simple as learning a few facts...

In the kitchen, sugar is most commonly known as the white crystallized substance that we add to coffee, cakes, and cookies. But this is only one specific sugar.

Despite some crazy names you may read on the ingredients list of packaged foods, there are only 6 types of sugar that naturally occur in this world:

1. Glucose

2. Fructose

3. Galactose

4. Lactose

5. Maltose

6. Sucrose

Some of these words may already sound familiar but in different contexts such as "high fructose corn syrup," "lactose intolerance" or "blood glucose levels." Once you understand what these sugars are, then those terms will become easy to understand as well. So let's break it down:


Glucose is the most common form of sugar found in nature. If you think back to 8th grade biology, you may remember the formula for photosynthesis:

6(CO2)+ 6(H2O) + sunlight and chlorophyll= C6H12O6

Well in words, that says plants use carbon, oxygen, and water to make glucose.

It means that plants make sugar.