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Natural Sugar vs Refined Sugar

Many have heard the importance of reducing sugar intake for a healthy lifestyle. However, this is only partially true. There are two types of sugar: naturally occurring sugar and refined sugar. Natural sugar is found in fruits, dairy, and carbohydrates. Refined sugar is sugar by itself, which includes pure sugar sourced from sugar canes.

Despite the stigmas around the idea of eating sugar, naturally occurring sugar in fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, and milk are fine to consume. Unlike refined sugars, these foods have other nutrients and macromolecules in them that prevent the sugar in them from causing blood sugar spikes. These foods also provide vitamins and minerals that can support people’s health goals. In fact, consuming foods with natural sugars is very important for cancer patients and others wishing to prevent the risk of cancer. Foods with natural sugars should be consumed in a balanced meal that includes fruits, vegetables, and sources of protein.

Refined sugar should be consumed in moderation. Baked goods, candy, and sodas all have refined sugars added to them. The large quantities of sugar added in these kinds of foods are the reason sugar spikes in the blood occur. At the biological level, this occurs because cellular processes break down refined sugar quickly. These foods also have little to no nutritional value but large amounts of calories, which can lead to health problems like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Furthermore, research has shown that obesity is linked with the risk of cancer development. Research surrounding refined sugar makes it clear that it should be consumed as rarely as possible.

Even though fruits and dairy products have sugar in them, they are “good” sugars. These foods are essential for long-lasting energy and a healthy lifestyle. The sugar that many people have heard to avoid is actually refined sugar. This type of sugar is found in junk foods and sugary beverages, which is why doctors try to limit the amount of candy children eat . A healthy diet should incorporate far more foods with natural sugar than foods with refined sugar.



Alexander, H. Natural versus refined sugar: What’s the difference? MD Anderson Cancer Center. 2021 November 12.


Natural vs. refined sugars: What's the difference? Cancer Treatment Centers of America. 2016 August 9.


Sugar 101. American Heart Association. 2021 November 2.


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