Does fruit and milk sugar break down in the body the same way as regular table sugar? Are they all considered of equal “healthyness”?
The sugar found in fruit is called fructose and the sugar in milk is called lactose. Table sugar is sucrose. Sugars are broken down into monosaccharides (single units of carbohydrate) during digestion.
Lactose = glucose + galactose
Sucrose = glucose + fructose
All sugars provide 4 calories per gram. After sugars are broken down they pass through the wall of our intestine into the blood stream, to the liver and to our body’s tissues. I would not recommend choosing foods that contain sugar based on the way our body breaks them down.
However, fructose in fruit and lactose in milk are naturally occurring sugars in foods which fit into Canada’s Food Guide. Fruit provides additional nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium and fiber while milk is a great source of calcium and vitamin D. Sucrose (table sugar) is an added sugar and is one we want to limit, as the advice in Canada’s Food Guide states, “Limit foods and beverages high in calories, fat, sugar or salt.” Sucrose does not provide any additional nutrients; it is often referred to as an “empty calorie” meaning it is contributing energy to our diet and not much else. So in terms of your question when we think of healthy eating, these sugars are NOT equal. See another similar question on fructose by clicking here.