Granulated Sugar Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Sugar (granulated)

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Granulated sugar is white table sugar. It is the most recognizable form of sugar, usually found in sugar bowls and in packets on restaurant tables and coffee shops. Granulated sugar is refined, as opposed to some types of brown sugar which are often unrefined or partially refined. Sugar granules may range in size from very fine to course.

Granulated sugar may be included in a healthy eating pattern when consumed in moderation. But excess sugar consumption is common and can lead to health problems.

Sugar Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for 1 teaspoon (4g) of granulated sugar.

  • Calories: 15.4
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 4g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 4g
  • Protein: 0g

Carbs

One teaspoon of sugar has 16 calories that come from about 4 grams of simple carbohydrates. There is no fiber or starch in granulated sugar.

Calories from sugar are considered "empty calories" because they contain little to no nutritional value. That's why current USDA dietary guidelines recommend limiting your intake of added sugar to just 10% of daily calories or fewer, but some health experts have called for even less. In fact, a scientific review of the dietary guidelines published in 2020 advised restricting sugar intake to no more than 6% of daily calories.

Sugar is also a high glycemic food. The glycemic index of granulated sugar is 65. However, the glycemic load of one teaspoon of sugar is only 3. Glycemic load takes portion size into account when estimating a food's impact on blood sugar levels.

Fats

Granulated sugar contains no fat.

Protein

There is no protein in granulated sugar or other forms of sugar.

Vitamins and Minerals

Sugar provides no significant vitamins or minerals.

Health Benefits

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate and provides a quick source of energy (glucose) to the body. Your body's cells, tissues, and organs usually rely on glucose to function. Excess carbohydrates from sugar and other sources are stored in the body for later use when energy (in the form of food) is not available. While your body can use other macronutrients such as fat and protein for fuel, carbohydrates are the preferred source as it is easily turned into glucose.

Sugar is also helpful in food processing. Sugar is widely used as a flavor enhancer, but it can also be used to create better food texture, add bulk, improve the shelf-life of packaged foods, and make products moist. Sugar is also used for fermentation.

Adverse Effects

Even though sugar can provide certain basic benefits in the body and in food manufacturing, much of the research investigating the role of sugar in the diet has focused on the adverse effects of sugar overconsumption.

Data updated in 2020 suggests that sugar consumption is going down in the U.S. but many Americans still consume more sugar than they need, primarily in the form of added sugar—sugar added during food processing to foods such as soft drinks, baked goods, snack foods, and even savory foods such as ketchup, soups, or salad dressings. Added sugar also includes sugar that you add to foods such as coffee or cereal.

Excess consumption of sugar has been linked to a wide variety of adverse health effects including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and poor oral health.

Nutrition labels now contain a line item that can help consumers identify the amount of added sugars contained in products. In addition to the health risks associated with consuming more than 10% of your total daily calories from added sugar, the USDA states that is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within your calorie limits.

Allergies

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, there is no true allergy to sugar. But the issue is controversial as some believe that sugar consumption can cause hyperactivity in some. The organization states, however, that medical evidence of sugar-related hyperactivity is lacking.

Varieties

Granulated sugar comes from either sugar beets or sugar cane. After an extraction process, different types of sugar can be made. Granulated table sugar is the most common type for use in recipes and day-to-day food flavoring. There are also very fine granulated sugars made for making smooth desserts, or powdered sugar which is granulated sugar that has been ground to a powder and sifted. Some types of light and dark brown sugar are granulated white sugar that has been blended with molasses.

When It’s Best

Sugar cane is harvested usually in the late winter. But sugar processing happens year-round. You can find sugar in almost every market at any time of year.

Storage and Food Safety

Granulated sugar should be kept in an airtight container in your pantry or in a cupboard away from heat and light. It should stay fresh for 18–24 months. According to the USDA, sugar never spoils, but for best quality, use within two years of opening.

You can freeze sugar but it is not recommended because sugar can pick up food odors easily.

How to Prepare

There are ways to enjoy sweet flavors without overdoing your sugar intake. For example, if you add sugar to your morning coffee or breakfast cereal, see if you can gradually cut back to half of your regular amount. Keeping the sugar bowl in the cabinet rather than on the counter or table may also help you to reduce your sugar intake to healthy levels.

You can also add fresh fruit slices or berries to your morning cereal or oatmeal instead of sprinkling on sugar. Grab an apple, pear, or orange instead of a candy bar or cookie. And skip the sugary soft drinks and drink water instead, adding lemon or lime slices for a little flavor.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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