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Cereal Foods World, Vol. 63, No. 3
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1094/CFW-63-3-0107
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Quality of Sugars and Sugar-Containing Foods
Luc Tappy1

Physiology Department, University of Lausanne, Faculty of Biology and Medicine, Lausanne, Switzerland, and
Metabolic Center, Hopital Intercantonal de la Broye, Estavayer-le-lac, Switzerland
1 Luc Tappy, M.D., Physiology Department, UNIL, 7, rue du Bugnon, CH-1005 Lausanne, Switzerland.
Tel: +41 21 692 55 41; Fax: +41 21 692 55 95; E-mail: luc.tappy@unil.ch


Dietary sugars are mono- and disaccharides that are naturally present in fruits, vegetables, and natural syrups or are added to foods as refined sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup. Dietary sugars are absorbed in the bloodstream as glucose (indistinguishable from that released from starch), fructose, and galactose. Galactose is converted into glucose, and fructose is converted into glucose, lactate, and fatty acids in splanchnic organs. The main nutritional function of sugars is to provide usable energy to all cells in the human body. The efficiency of usable energy transfer is very high for glucose; lower for galactose, lactose, and sucrose; and lower still for fructose. High dietary sugar intake may be associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. This is especially true for fructose and sucrose, which increase blood lipids and impair hepatic insulin sensitivity when consumed in high doses. The effects of sugar-containing foods vary according to food group: fruit and vegetable consumption significantly protects against cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, while consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with an increased risk. The quality of sugar-containing foods should be assessed not only based on their sugar content, but also on their overall energy, dietary fiber, and micronutrient contents.

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