What is sucrose? - Levels (2023)

Sucrose—table sugar—is a common added sweetener. It’s made of glucose and fructose, and too much can cause metabolic damage in your body.

We talk a lot about glucose when we focus on metabolic health. After all, it’s the “sugar” in “blood sugar” and what most of the carbs we eat break down into, so it can power our cells or, if there’s excess, be stored for later use.

But the sugar you likely encounter most often in the world is sucrose. First, it’s what you get when you buy a bag of regular white sugar at the store. But it’s also a common added sugar and is found naturally in fruits and vegetables. Both of its parts—glucose and fructose—can have adverse effects on your metabolic health when you consume too much.

Here’s what you need to know about sucrose.

What is Sucrose?

Sucrose is a type of sugar formed by one glucose and one fructose molecule bonded together. This sugar falls into the disaccharide category, which means two monosaccharides (glucose + fructose) linked together by a glycosidic bond.

Sucrose is most commonly known as table sugar. But you’ll also find added sucrose in foods like sugar-sweetened beverages (such as soda or sports drinks), desserts (like cookies and brownies), condiments (ketchup, BBQ sauce), cereals, yogurts, and more. Sucrose is also in natural sources, such as carrots, apples, maple syrup, and, of course, sugar cane and sugar beets.

(Video) Blood Sugar Levels Chart | Includes fasting and after eating

Is Sucrose the Same as Sugar?

Almost—sucrose is a type of sugar. Other names for sucrose include both cane sugar and table sugar.

Sugar is a catchall term for a type of carbohydrate that’s typically sweet and contains calories. Plain white granulated sugar is pure sucrose. Powdered sugar is often sucrose with added corn starch. Brown sugar is mostly sucrose with some molasses. Raw sugar is just sucrose that’s gone through less processing. (None of these are any healthier than the others.)

Other sugars include lactose (the sugar in milk), maltose (found in sweet potatoes), and trehalose (in mushrooms).

What is the Difference Between Glucose, Sucrose, and Fructose?

These are all types of sugars.

Glucose: A monosaccharide, also known as a simple sugar. Glucose comprises 6 carbon, 12 hydrogen, and 6 oxygen atoms (C6, H12, O6).

Found in: Glucose is naturally found in foods such as honey, dried fruit, grapes, sweet corn, and juice.

Related article: What is glucose?

(Video) Carbohydrates & sugars - biochemistry

Fructose: Like glucose, fructose is made up of 6 carbon, 12 hydrogen, and 6 oxygen atoms (C6, H12, O6), and it’s also a monosaccharide. Because the atoms are arranged differently from glucose, fructose is sweeter.

Found in: Fructose naturally occurs in coconut sugar, agave syrup, and fruits like apples, and watermelon. It’s also in high-fructose corn syrup, which is part fructose and part glucose.

Related article: Why fructose is bad for metabolic health

Sucrose: This molecule is a disaccharide made up of a glucose and fructose molecule linked together.

Found in: Sugar beets, sugar cane, honey, maple syrup, and other fruits and vegetables, as well as table sugar.

Where Does Sucrose Come From?

Sucrose forms in plants just like other sugars, through photosynthesis, and helps provide energy to the plant.

Foods contain different amounts of sugars. Pears, for instance, have higher fructose than glucose and sucrose. Tomatoes have no sucrose, while sweet peas are all sucrose (but only about 4g per 100g). Sugar beets also contain only sucrose but have 18g per 100g, which is why they’re used to manufacture table sugar, along with sugar cane.

(Video) Why Sucrose is BROKEN! Sucrose's Full Potential Explained - Best Build & Showcase | Genshin Impact

Creating table sugar is a multistep process that involves extracting juice from the cane or beet, refining the sugar liquid multiple times to isolate the sucrose, and ultimately crystallizing the liquid to create dry white sugar.

Is Sucrose a Carbohydrate?

Yes, sucrose is a type of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. They are one of the three types of molecules that can be converted to energy in the body, along with fat and protein. During digestion, your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, the primary energy source for your cells. Starches (long chains of sugars), sucrose, and lactose are all in the carb category. One teaspoon of sucrose (table sugar) has four grams of carbohydrates with 16 calories.

One sugar molecule or two sugar molecules bonded together is considered a “simple carbohydrate.” Sucrose is a simple carb. A complex carb, on the other hand, has three or more sugars linked together. Fibers and starches are examples of complex carbohydrates.

Our body needs glucose, but in general, we want to get it from foods high in complex carbohydrates (especially fiber) such as vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans. These not only have more nutrients than foods high in simple carbs (such as candy or baked goods) but also break down more slowly and are less likely to cause blood-sugar spikes.

(Video) Prediabetes Blood Sugar Levels

What Does Sucrose Do to the Body?

No matter how you consume sucrose, an enzyme in your body called sucrase breaks it into glucose and fructose, and these molecules move through different metabolic pathways. Glucose enters your bloodstream, where it prompts the release of insulin. Insulin helps shuttle glucose into your cells for energy or stored as glycogen for later use or as fat. Fructose, however, is metabolized mainly by your liver (and the intestines). It does not trigger an insulin response; however, fructose still can cause significant problems with insulin over the long term by generating fat in the liver, which can make the liver insulin resistant.

Eating small amounts of sucrose through whole, healthy foods like vegetables is unlikely to have a negative impact. There’s no molecular difference between sucrose that comes from natural sources or table sugar, but the fiber in whole foods helps slow down glucose absorption in your body, leading to more stable blood sugar.

However, consuming excess sucrose as an added sugar can have several adverse effects, including blood sugar spikes, insulin resistance and more.

Why We Should Avoid Blood Sugar Spikes

When we take in too many simple carbohydrates, we can sharply raise the amount of glucose in our bloodstream, leading to a blood sugar spike. In the short term, a spike is often followed by a crash—or low glucose levels—as the body works to stabilize blood sugar levels by releasing insulin. These crashes can manifest in several ways, including fatigue, brain fog, anxiety—until your blood glucose returns to homeostasis.

Long-term high insulin levels can create a damaging cycle where cells become “numb” to insulin’s effect. This condition, called insulin resistance, is a primary driver of Type 2 diabetes and can factor in many chronic conditions, including heart disease, infertility, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Nearly 40% of U.S. adults have it, and possibly up to 88%.

In addition, several studies show that consuming added sugars such as sucrose can also lead to weight gain. In a study that looked at the consequences of consuming up to 1.75 liters of a sucrose-sweetened drink (providing 400 to 560 calories per day), people gained four pounds after 12 weeks compared to drinking drinks sweetened with low-calorie sweeteners.

Why Fructose Is Bad for Your Health

In addition to the broader dangers of too much sugar, the fructose component of sucrose has negative health consequences.

(Video) 6 Types of Sugar. Dr Chan talks about Glucose, Fructose, Galactose, Sucrose, Lactose & Maltose

Because the liver metabolizes fructose, that’s where the problems begin. With too much fructose, the liver can start turning the sugar into fat, leading to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), estimated to be present in 25% of people worldwide and as many as 12% of U.S. children. Researchers have shown that even though it’s only half fructose, sucrose consumption can still spur this increased fatty acid production in the liver.

Other effects of excess fructose consumption include insulin resistance, uric acid buildup (which can lead to gout), and inflammation. In addition, several studies show links between excessive fructose consumption and cardiovascular disease risk, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.


What is a normal sucrose level? ›

A fasting blood sugar level less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) is normal. A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes. If it's 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests, you have diabetes. Oral glucose tolerance test.

How much sucrose is too much? ›

Men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) of added sugar per day. For women, the number is lower: 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) per day. Consider that one 12-ounce can of soda contains 8 teaspoons (32 grams) of added sugar! There goes your whole day's allotment in one slurp.

How do you test for sucrose levels? ›

Insert a test strip into your meter. Prick the side of your fingertip with the needle (lancet) provided with your test kit. Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood. The meter will display your blood sugar level on a screen after a few seconds.

Is 120 sugar level normal? ›

In general: Less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L ) is normal. 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L ) is diagnosed as prediabetes. 126 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L ) or higher on two separate tests is diagnosed as diabetes.

What is normal sugar level by age? ›

From 90 to 130 mg/dL (5.0 to 7.2 mmol/L) for adults. From 90 to 130 mg/dL (5.0 to 7.2 mmol/L) for children, 13 to 19 years old. From 90 to 180 mg/dL (5.0 to 10.0 mmol/L) for children, 6 to 12 years old. From 100 to 180 mg/dL (5.5 to 10.0 mmol/L) for children under 6 years old.

What sugar level is normal for diabetics? ›

Keep your blood sugar levels close to normal to avoid many of these complications. The American Diabetes Association's goals for blood sugar control in people with diabetes are 70 to 130 mg/dL before meals, and less than 180 mg/dL after meals.

Is there a healthy sugar? ›

Stevia — in packet, drops or plant form — is a dietitian favorite. Not only does it contain zero calories, but stevia-based sweeteners are herbal as opposed to artificial. Stevia blended with a sugar alcohol called erythritol (Truvia®) works well in low-carb baked desserts, too.

What foods are high in sugar? ›

The main foods that contain added sugar include:
  • Candy.
  • Cakes.
  • Cookies.
  • Pies and cobblers.
  • Sweet rolls, pastries, and doughnuts.
  • Dairy desserts, such as ice cream and yogurt.
  • Sugar sweetened drinks, such as soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and juice drinks.
14 Oct 2020

How much sugar can a Type 2 diabetic have per day? ›

The maximum recommended daily amount of sugar is 30g for adults – which works out at just seven teaspoons a day. Given that a tablespoon of ketchup contains around one teaspoon of sugar, a chocolate biscuit has up to two, and a small serving of baked beans almost three, you can see how quickly the teaspoons tot up.

What is normal blood sugar after eating? ›

These are typical targets: Before a meal: 80 to 130 mg/dL. Two hours after the start of a meal: Less than 180 mg/dL.

What is a normal fasting insulin level? ›

Reference Range
Insulin LevelInsulin Level (SI Units*)
Fasting< 25 mIU/L< 174 pmol/L
30 minutes after glucose administration30-230 mIU/L208-1597 pmol/L
1 hour after glucose administration18-276 mIU/L125-1917 pmol/L
2 hour after glucose administration16-166 mIU/L111-1153 pmol/L
2 more rows
15 Dec 2021

What blood sugar is too low? ›

Blood sugar below 70 mg/dL is considered low. If you think you have low blood sugar, check it. If you aren't able to check it, go ahead and treat it. Untreated low blood sugar can be dangerous, so it's important to know what to do about it and to treat it immediately.

What glucose level is too high? ›

High Blood Glucose: Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia means that you have too much blood glucose. It happens when your blood glucose level is around 200 mg/dL or higher. Hyperglycemia can happen if you miss taking your diabetes medications, eat too much or do not get enough exercise.

What is a normal blood sugar before bed? ›

People without diabetes should aim for a blood sugar range of 72–90 mg/dL or 4.0–5.0 mmol/L at bedtime for optimal health. Non-pregnant adults with diabetes often target a blood sugar range of 80–130 mg/dL or 4.4–7.2 mmol/L.

What is the normal blood sugar level for a 70 year old? ›

Normal ranges of blood sugar levels are between 70 and 130 mg/dL before eating meals. The American Diabetes Association recommends seniors have blood glucose levels of less than 180 mg/dL two hours after eating. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don't all need the same type of at-home care.

What is normal blood sugar level for 60 year old female? ›

A normal fasting blood glucose level is between 70 and 100 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter of blood).

What is a normal sugar level for a woman? ›

The blood glucose levels chart for women shows the normal blood sugar level readings should be between 100 to 140 mg/dL at bedtime. It should be >70 and <100mg/dL after fasting.

Is coffee good for diabetics? ›

Some studies suggest that drinking coffee — whether caffeinated and decaffeinated — may actually reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you already have diabetes, however, the impact of caffeine on insulin action may be associated with higher or lower blood sugar levels.

Can drinking a lot of water lower your blood sugar? ›

Did you know it's Sugar Free February and that drinking water can help to lower blood sugar levels by diluting the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood stream. By drinking water lots of water you can reduce your blood sugar as it indirectly will reduce insulin resistance and help reduce hunger.

What are 10 warning signs of diabetes? ›

Some of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are:
  • Feeling more thirsty than usual.
  • Urinating often.
  • Losing weight without trying.
  • Presence of ketones in the urine. ...
  • Feeling tired and weak.
  • Feeling irritable or having other mood changes.
  • Having blurry vision.
  • Having slow-healing sores.
9 Aug 2022

Why my blood sugar is high in the morning? ›

The dawn phenomenon

In the early hours of the morning, hormones, including cortisol and growth hormone, signal the liver to boost the production of glucose, which provides energy that helps you wake up. This triggers beta cells in the pancreas to release insulin in order to keep blood glucose levels in check.

What type of sugar is sucrose? ›

Sucrose is a disaccharide made of glucose and fructose. It's commonly known as “table sugar” but it can be found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and nuts. However, it's also produced commercially from sugar cane and sugar beets through a refinement process.

What type of sugar is best? ›

White sugar, composed of 50% glucose and 50% fructose, has slightly lower GI. Based on available values in the GI database, agave syrup has the lowest GI value. Therefore, it's a better option than other sugars in terms of blood sugar management.

Which type of sugar is best for health? ›

Brown sugar is definitely a healthier option than refined white sugar. It is processed in a completely natural way to maintain as much of the sugarcane's natural nutrition as possible, including vitamins and minerals.

What foods have no sugar? ›

Seafood, pork, beef, and chicken are all sugar-free. They're also an important source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. If you don't eat meat, soybeans, lentils, beans, nuts, and seeds are great sugar-free, high-protein foods.

What foods make type 2 diabetes worse? ›

Worst Choices
  • Fried meats.
  • Higher-fat cuts of meat, such as ribs.
  • Pork bacon.
  • Regular cheeses.
  • Poultry with skin.
  • Deep-fried fish.
  • Deep-fried tofu.
  • Beans prepared with lard.
6 Dec 2020

Is honey good for diabetics type 2? ›

Regina Castro, M.D. Generally, there's no advantage to substituting honey for sugar in a diabetes eating plan. Both honey and sugar will affect your blood sugar level.

Are Type 2 diabetics allowed any sugar? ›

According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes can still have sweets, chocolate, or other sugary foods as long they are eaten as part of a healthful meal plan or combined with exercise. They consider a healthful meal plan to: have limited saturated fat. contain moderate amounts of salt and sugar.

Which finger is best for blood sugar test? ›

Recommended finger: the World Health Organisation recommends the middle or ring fingers are used for blood glucose tests (second and third fingers). You may want to avoid using your little finger due to the skin being thin.

What should my blood sugar be 30 minutes after eating? ›

What should be the blood sugar levels after 30 mins of food intake?

What foods can lower blood sugar quickly? ›

Best foods that help lower and control blood sugar
  • Whole wheat bread.
  • Fruits.
  • Sweet potatoes and yams.
  • Oatmeal and oat bran.
  • Nuts.
  • Legumes.
  • Garlic.
  • Fatty fish.
5 days ago

What fasting insulin is diabetes? ›

Fasting insulin is greater than 12 uIU/mL (>72 pmol/L). HgbA1C level is greater than 6.0% (>42 mmol/mol). Greater than 6.4% (>46 mmol/mol) is diagnostic of diabetes. *

What if fasting insulin is high? ›

It has many functions, such as allowing your cells to take in sugar from your blood for energy. However, living with chronically high levels of insulin, also known as hyperinsulinemia, can lead to excessive weight gain and serious health problems like heart disease and cancer ( 1 , 2 , 3 ).

What is a good insulin resistance score? ›

Individuals with elevated fasting insulin and/or C-peptide levels may have IR,11 which is reflected in the insulin resistance score. An insulin resistance score of <33 suggests that an individual has normal insulin sensitivity.

What are the 5 symptoms of hypoglycemia? ›

  • Looking pale.
  • Shakiness.
  • Sweating.
  • Headache.
  • Hunger or nausea.
  • An irregular or fast heartbeat.
  • Fatigue.
  • Irritability or anxiety.
4 May 2022

What blood sugar level is too low for type 2 diabetes? ›

Such high levels tend to be uncommon in type 2 diabetes. Blood sugar levels below 3.3 mmol/l (60 mg/dl) are considered to be too low.

Can I have low blood sugar and not be diabetic? ›

A low blood sugar level without diabetes

A low blood sugar level is uncommon in people who do not have diabetes. Possible causes include: your body releasing too much insulin after eating (called reactive hypoglycaemia or postprandial hypoglycaemia) not eating (fasting) or malnutrition.

How can I get my sugar level down? ›

14 Easy Ways to Lower Blood Sugar Levels Naturally
  1. Exercise regularly. ...
  2. Manage your carb intake. ...
  3. Eat more fiber. ...
  4. Drink water and stay hydrated. ...
  5. Implement portion control. ...
  6. Choose foods with a low glycemic index. ...
  7. Try to manage your stress levels. ...
  8. Monitor your blood sugar levels.

Does stress cause high blood sugar? ›

When you're experiencing physical or emotional stress, hormones are released that increase your blood sugar. Cortisol and adrenaline are other primary hormones involved. This is a perfectly natural response.

What makes blood sugar rise? ›

Carbohydrates (carbs) are what cause blood sugar to rise. When you eat carbs, they are broken down into simple sugars. Those sugars then enter the bloodstream. As your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which prompts your cells to absorb sugar from the blood.

What time should diabetics stop eating at night? ›

Try to go 10 to 12 hours each night without eating, Sheth advises. For instance, if you eat breakfast at 8:30 a.m. every morning, that means capping your nighttime meals and snacks between 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. each night.

Does lack of sleep affect blood sugar? ›

Decreased sleep is a risk factor for increased blood sugar4 levels. Even partial sleep deprivation over one night increases insulin resistance, which can in turn increase blood sugar levels. As a result, a lack of sleep has been associated with diabetes, a blood sugar disorder.

How many years a diabetic person can live? ›

The combined diabetic life expectancy is 74.64 years—comparable to the life expectancy in the general population.

When is the best time to check your blood sugar? ›

Checking your blood sugar levels often and recording the results will tell you how well you are managing your diabetes so you can stay as healthy as possible. The best times to check your blood sugar are before meals and at bedtime. Your blood sugar meter may have software to help you track your blood sugar level.

What is normal sugar level by age? ›

From 90 to 130 mg/dL (5.0 to 7.2 mmol/L) for adults. From 90 to 130 mg/dL (5.0 to 7.2 mmol/L) for children, 13 to 19 years old. From 90 to 180 mg/dL (5.0 to 10.0 mmol/L) for children, 6 to 12 years old. From 100 to 180 mg/dL (5.5 to 10.0 mmol/L) for children under 6 years old.

Is sucrose the same as sugar? ›

Sucrose is a disaccharide made of glucose and fructose. It's commonly known as “table sugar” but it can be found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

Does sucrose raise blood sugar? ›

Sucrose is a type of sugar that can elevate your blood sugar levels in the minutes and hours following its consumption.

What does sucrose do to the body? ›

As a carbohydrate, sucrose provides your body with the energy required to perform physical and mental functions. Your body breaks down foods such as sucrose and starch into fructose and glucose during digestion. The fructose and glucose are metabolized by your body to release energy to your cells.

Is table sugar the same as sucrose? ›

Chemically speaking, table sugar is sucrose, a disaccharide that is a 50-50 mixture of the monosaccharides glucose and fructose. Table sugar is a common ingredient in baking where it provides structure and texture. It's also used in homemade jams and jellies for preservation, and for the sweetening of coffee and tea.

Is sucrose good or bad? ›

Sucrose, or table sugar, may add sweetness to your favorite treats, but when it comes to your health, it's not so sweet. Weight gain, poor blood sugar control and heart disease are just a few of the dangers of regularly including sucrose in your diet.

What is the common name for sucrose? ›

Sucrose is also known as table sugar. It occurs naturally in many fruits and plants, and it's added to all sorts of processed foods. It consists of 50% glucose and 50% fructose.

What foods contain sucrose? ›

Sucrose is found in fruits and vegetables, and is purified from sugar cane and sugar beets for use in cooking and food production. The sucrose in your sugar bowl is the same sucrose found naturally in sugar cane, sugar beets, apples, oranges, carrots, and other fruits and vegetables.

Is sucrose OK for diabetes? ›

We conclude that a moderate amount of sucrose taken daily at mealtimes does not cause deterioration in metabolic control in diabetic patients following a high fibre/low fat diet.

Is sucrose better than sugar? ›

All sugars contain the same number of calories- 4 calories per gram. So in the fructose vs sucrose calories comparison, there's no better or worse sugar.

Does sucrose affect diabetes? ›

Conclusions: The use of a moderate amount of sucrose, as part of a balanced diet, did not affect the glucose variability or insulin requirements in patients with type 1 diabetes.

Where is sucrose found in the human body? ›

Humans take sucrose in diet as sugar. It is broken down in digestive tract into glucose and fructose, which are absorbed in blood.

Where is sucrose found? ›

Sucrose is a naturally occurring sugar found in various amounts in plants like fruits, vegetables and nuts. Sucrose is also produced commercially from sugar cane and sugar beets.

Is sucrose safe for humans? ›

IS SUCRALOSE SAFE TO CONSUME? YES. More than 100 safety studies representing over 20 years of research have shown sucralose to be safe. In 1998, the FDA approved its use as a sweetener in 15 specific food categories.

What is the main source of sucrose? ›

Sucrose occurs naturally in sugarcane, sugar beets, sugar maple sap, dates, and honey. It is produced commercially in large amounts (especially from sugarcane and sugar beets) and is used almost entirely as food. See also sugar.

Is sucrose pure sugar? ›

You may have heard the term “sucrose” at one point or another—but what is it, really? Sucrose is simply the chemical name for sugar, the simple carbohydrate we know and love that is produced naturally in all plants, including fruits, vegetables and even nuts.

What is the healthiest type of sugar? ›

Brown sugar is definitely a healthier option than refined white sugar. It is processed in a completely natural way to maintain as much of the sugarcane's natural nutrition as possible, including vitamins and minerals.


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