Making Sense Of Sugar

Sugars and the body

Sugars are an important source of energy that we all need to go about our daily lives. The most important sugar in the body is glucose. Our brain requires around 130 grams of sugar (glucose) per day to keep functioning. You’ll find glucose in all sorts of foods including fruit, vegetables and honey.

The other most common sugars found in food and drinks are:

  • Sucrose – found naturally in fruit and vegetables and also extracted from sugar cane and sugar beet to create table sugar (the sugar you buy in the supermarket!)
  • Fructose and glucose – found in fruit, vegetables and honey
  • Lactose – found in milk and dairy products, like cheese and yogurt
  • Maltose – made from grains, it is found in malted drinks and beer.

To find out more about what exactly sugar is, head to out our what is sugar page.

The different sugars are broken down and used in different ways but, most importantly, the body doesn’t distinguish between sugars used in manufacturing or in the kitchen, and those sugars found naturally in fruits and vegetables. For example, sucrose in an apple is broken down in exactly the same way as the sucrose in your sugar bowl.

The recommended Reference Intake for total sugars as part of your diet is 90g a day for adults. This Reference
Intake is based on the requirements for an average female with no special dietary requirements and an
assumed energy intake of 2,000 calories. (2)

Head to our Guide to Sugars to find out more about the sugars and calories in some of your favourite foods and drinks.