Sugar, Glucose, and Carbohydrates, Enemies or members of Diabetes?
To highlight the differences between sugar, glucose and carbohydrates, we put the word sugar in italics, glucose in bold, and carbohydrates underscored.
All the foods we eat turns into glucose in our body. Our body digests foods and converts them into glucose to use it as “energy fuel”, which our cells use to function.
There are certain foods that contain certain nutrients in a greater proportion, which people with Diabetes need to control. It’s important for carbohydrate intake to be controlled, because foods containing carbohydrates are those that mainly affect our blood glucose. These carbohydrate foods usually are also referred to as “sugars”.
But in fact sugar or sucrose is a carbohydrate derived from sugar cane. Table sugar is used to sweeten beverages and is added to various foods and products we eat.
So now that we know in general the difference between glucose, carbohydrates and sugar, it’d be useful to know the different food groups that contain carbohydrates. It is also important for people with Diabetes to know that these should be more carefully taken care of and should be counted, as these are the ones that raise our glucose the most. It’s important to clarify that, contrary to what has been thought for years, it’s not only sugar which raises our glucose, but every food that contains different kinds of carbohydrates. These food groups are:
1 – Sugars: table sugar, honey, jam, syrup, etc.
2 – Cereals and tubers: derived from corn, wheat, rice, oats.
3 – Legumes: beans, lentils, broad beans, soy.
4 – Dairy: milk and yogurt.
5 – Fruits: pears, apples, bananas, oranges, etc.
6 – Vegetables: broccoli, spinach, zucchini, carrots, etc.
** Vegetables contain very small amounts of carbohydrates, that’s why we can eat a lot of them without them greatly affecting our blood glucose. These are the favorable types of carbohydrates we should opt for.
All of this clarifies that sugar is another carbohydrate that is converted into glucose in our body.
As was noted in the list of foods that contain carbohydrates, there are foods we get from the ground like: fruits, vegetables, wheat derived cereals, corn, oats, rice, and legumes such as beans, lentils, broad beans, and on the other hand, foods we get industrially such as milk, yogurt, table sugar, honey, jams, tomato sauce, bread, cakes, cookies, candies and drinks, among others.
Foods with carbohydrates contain other nutritional substances, vitamins and minerals, which provide the body with energy and help it function properly. But we reiterate that people with Diabetes need to consume these in adequate amounts, because they determine our blood sugar (blood glucose) balance, along with other self-care tools.
For decades the consumption of carbohydrate foods was allowed, while sugar cane was strictly prohibited. At the same time, obsession with sugar of people with Diabetes, caused food excesses with dire consequences for their health.
It’s very important, to read nutritional labels content very carefully, to count carbohydrates, and to choose the best options of these, instead of limiting sugar cane consumption, because sugar or sucrose can also be found added in carbohydrate rich foods, where two or more types of carbohydrates can be found mixed together in a single food, presented as industrial products such as cereals, breads, pastries, cookies, drinks, and sodas, among others.
Currently, in a food exchange plan, sugar can be exchanged with other foods that also contain carbohydrates, taking into account the amount to be used. But in daily life, if we compare two carbohydrate food options like sugar (simple carbohydrates), and vegetables or beans (complex carbohydrates), we should choose the second option (vegetables, beans, milk), because of the amount we can eat, the fiber they contain, the vitamins and nutrients they can give us, their antioxidants, and finally because they take longer to be absorbed into our bloodstream. Vegetables, legumes, and dairy are absorbed more slowly by our body, and are therefore, more favorable for our balance, than consuming table sugar, which is absorbed more quickly. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed much faster.
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