Granulated Sugar Nutrition Facts

Calories in Granulated Sugar and Health Benefits

Sugar on spoon
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White table sugar is the most recognizable form of granulated sugar, although you can find specialty sugars that are made up of crystals that are larger or smaller in size. Brown sugar is also a form of granulated sugar. While you may not think of sugar as something that's healthy, you can incorporate small amounts of sugar into your diet, and there are a few times when it may be helpful.

Granulated Sugar Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 tsp (4 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 16 
Calories from Fat 0 
Total Fat 0g0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g 
Monounsaturated Fat 0g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 0mg0%
Potassium 0mg0%
Carbohydrates 4.2g1%
Dietary Fiber 0g0%
Sugars 4.2g 
Protein 0g 
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0% · Iron 0%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

One teaspoon of granulated sugar has 16 calories from about 4 grams simple carbohydrates. There's no additional nutritional value.

Health Benefits of Granulated Sugar

Sugar is probably considered more of a dietary villain than a hero because it's said to have 'empty calories,' meaning there's nothing else of nutritional value. That's true. And it's also true diets high in sugar and high fructose corn syrup are associated with health problems. But it's not clear how much of that association is due to sugars specifically or to the fact that diets high in sugar are almost always high in calories.

In small amounts, sugar can be helpful when it's used to entice a picky eater or improve the appetite of someone who needs to gain weight. For example, a plain bowl of oatmeal may seem dull, but a spoonful of sugar can improve the flavor and palatability.

Common Questions About Granulated Sugar

Where does granulated sugar come from?

Granulated sugar is made from either sugar cane or sugar beets. Sugar cane juice is extracted from shredded cane stalks and boiled until it thickens into molasses and forms crystals. The molasses is removed, and the remaining crystals are allowed to dry. Sugar beets and sliced and boiled to form molasses then processed into white sugar.

Is granulated sugar healthier than high fructose corn syrup?

No. Nutritionally, high fructose corn syrup, and granulated sugar are the same because they're both made up of glucose and fructose in similar proportions.

What's brown granulated sugar?

Brown sugar hasn't had the molasses removed, so it retains the color and flavor. Nutritionally, it's the same as white granulated sugar.

What is turbinado sugar?

Turbinado sugar (or raw sugar) is partially processed, so it's light brown in color and made up of larger crystals. It also has the same nutritional profile as regular granulated sugar.

What is confectioners sugar?

Confectioners sugar is granulated sugar that's been ground to a fine powder and also has a small amount of corn starch added. It's used for baking and to make frosting and icing. It's also called powdered sugar.

What is added sugar?

Added sugar is any type of sweetener that's used as an ingredient in processed foods. Common added sugars include granulated sugar, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, molasses, honey and maple syrup.

What's the difference between granulated sugar and the sugar in fruits and fruit juice?

The sugar in fruit is mainly fructose. But when you eat fruit you also get lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

The fiber is important because it slows down the absorption of the fruit sugar. Fresh fruit is best because the fiber is stripped away when fruit is turned into juice.

What are sugar alcohols?

Sugar alcohols such as xylitol and sorbitol can also be used to sweeten some foods, most often gum or sugar-free candy. They're slower to digest and absorb, and they're lower in calories than granulated sugar, but they're not zero-calorie sweeteners. They tend to cause some digestion problems so many people prefer not to use them.

Dietary Recommendations for Granulated Sugar

It's okay to consume up to about 10 percent of your daily calorie requirement in the form of sugar.

The recommendation includes all types of added sugars, including high fructose corn syrup, granulated sugar, turbinado, honey and other sweeteners.  So if you need about 1,500 calories per, only about 150 calories should come from sugars (you want to get most of your calories from healthy nutritious foods).

Keep in mind that the granulated sugar you sprinkle on your cereal is just one type of sugar. The recommendation also includes added sugars that are used as ingredients in foods such as soft drinks, salad dressings, breakfast cereal and ketchup as well as sweet treats and candy.

Ways to Cut Back on Sugar Consumption

There are ways to enjoy sweet flavors without overdoing your added sugar intake:

  • Add fresh fruit slices or berries to your morning cereal or oatmeal. 
  • Skip the sugary soft drinks and drink water instead. Add lemon or lime slices for a little flavor.
  • Read the labels when you buy processed foods and choose brands that have the least amount of sugar.
  • Use non-nutritive sweeteners such as sucralose, stevia or aspartame. You can find sucralose and stevia that will work in place of granulated sugar in baking and cooking.
  • Grab an apple, pear or orange instead of a candy bar or cookie.

Sources:

Erickson J, Slavin J. "Are Restrictive Guidelines for Added Sugars Science Based?" Nutr J. 2015 Dec 12;14:124. 

Stanhope KL.  "Sugar Consumption, Metabolic Disease and Obesity: The State of the Controversy." Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2016;53(1):52-67.

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.

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