Granulated Sugar Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Sugar (granulated)

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Granulated sugar is white table sugar (15 calories per teaspoon). It is the most recognizable form of sugar, usually found in sugar bowls and in packets on restaurant tables. 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 coarse.

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.

Natural Sugar vs. Refined Sugar

Natural sugars are sugars that are found in food, including fruit. Refined sugars are processed and manufactured sugars (for example, granulated sugar). You will find refined sugars labeled as "added sugars" on nutrition labels.

Sugar Nutrition Facts

Granulated sugar provides nutrition in the form of energy (calories). It does not have any fat, protein, fiber, sodium, or micronutrients like minerals or vitamins. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 teaspoon (4g) of granulated sugar.

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


One teaspoon of sugar has just over 15 calories that come from about 4 grams of simple carbohydrates. There is no fiber or starch in granulated sugar.

Calories from sugar are sometimes called "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 10% of daily calories or fewer, although some experts recommend even less. A scientific review of the dietary guidelines 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.


Granulated sugar contains no fat.


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 they are 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.


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. The organization states, however, that medical evidence of sugar-related hyperactivity is lacking.

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 negative effects of sugar overconsumption.

Data updated in 2020 suggests that sugar consumption in the U.S. is decreasing, but many Americans still consume more sugar than they need, primarily in the form of added sugar. That's sugar added during food processing to foods such as soft drinks, baked goods, snack foods, and even savory foods such as ketchup, soups, and salad dressings. Added sugar also includes sugar that you add yourself 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 if too many calories come from sugar.


Granulated sugar is extracted from sugar beets or sugar cane. Granulated table sugar is the most common type of sugar used 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 light and dark brown sugars are granulated white sugar that has been blended with molasses.

Storage and Food Safety

Granulated sugar should be kept in an airtight container in a pantry or a cupboard, away from heat and light. It should stay fresh for 18 to 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 easily pick up odors from other foods in the freezer.

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, 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. Skip the sugary soft drinks and drink water instead, adding lemon or lime slices for a little flavor.

12 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Get the facts: Added sugars and consumption.

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By Shereen Lehman, MS
Shereen Lehman, MS, is a former writer for Verywell Fit and Reuters Health. She's a healthcare journalist who writes about healthy eating and offers evidence-based advice for regular people.