Granulated Sugar Nutrition Facts

The Truth About the "Empty Calories"

Sugar on spoon
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White table sugar is the most recognizable form of granulated sugar, but brown sugar is a form of granulated sugar as well. One teaspoon of granulated sugar has 16 calories from about 4 grams simple carbohydrates, but, unfortunately, there is no additional nutritional value to granulated sugar. While sugar may not be 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

 

The Nutrition Breakdown

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. Unfortunately, that is true. And it's also true diets high in sugar and high fructose corn syrup is associated with health problems like obesity and heart disease. 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.

Dietary Recommendations

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 day, only about 150 calories should come from sugars (since 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. This 10 percent 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.

Added and Other Types of Sugars

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. 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. Nutritionally, high fructose corn syrup and granulated sugar are the same because they're both made up of glucose and fructose in similar proportions.

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.

Nutritionally, other sugars such as brown sugar, turbinado (or raw sugar), and confectioner's (or powdered) sugar have the same nutritional profile as white sugar. 

Ways to Cut Back on Sugar

There are ways to enjoy sweet flavors without overdoing your added sugar intake. You can 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.

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

It's also important to read the labels when you buy processed foods and choose brands that have the least amount of sugar.

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