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The Differences Between Sucrose and Glucose

written by: Harry Sylvester • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 11/21/2010

What is the difference between sucrose and glucose? The processing of sugar beets or sugar cane provides sucrose, while all carbohydrates generate glucose when digested. Learn more about the differences between the two.

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    What is the Difference Between Sucrose and Glucose?

    There are three common types of sugar:

    • Sucrose, or table sugar, is obtained from the processing of sugar beets or sugar cane.
    • Glucose is generated when you consume carbohydrates, such as bread, potatoes and starches.
    • Fructose is the natural sugar from fruits and commonly used in high-fructose corn syrup.
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    Sucrose

    When it comes to eating sweet foods or drinking soft drinks, you may find it difficult to differentiate between the different types of sweeteners used. Your body, however, can digest and break down all sugars. Sucrose is a disaccharide consisting of 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose. Sucrose was once considered dangerous for those suffering from diabetes.

    For many years, the medical community warned diabetics about the evils of sugar, or sucrose. In the early 2000s, it was discovered that sucrose is no worse than any other high-GI carbohydrate when it comes to blood sugar control. Table sugar generates a glycemic response the same way as rice, potatoes and bread do. The glycemic index (GI) enables you to measure how much your blood glucose increases within two or three hours after eating carbohydrates. The index ranks carbohydrates based on their effect on your blood glucose levels.

    White bread and baked potatoes actually have a higher GI rating than table sugar, indicating that the body will convert the carbohydrates to blood glucose at a much faster rate resulting in severe spikes in blood glucose levels. Sucrose is still a high-GI food, however, and any carbohydrate with a high glycemic index rating might endanger your health, increasing diabetic and cardiovascular risks.

    Sucrose is available almost everywhere, affordable, and simple to produce. Some additional products from the refinement process of sucrose include brown sugar, molasses, turbinado, raw sugar, maple syrup, and confectioners’ sugar. You could find sucrose in sweets like candies and chocolate.

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    Glucose

    Glucose is a monosaccharide. All carbohydrates generate glucose when digested. Your body digests and breaks down glucose more effectively than sucrose.

    Your body uses glucose for energy. Glucose urges the body to generate more leptin, a hormone associated with fat storage and appetite control. This condition can reduce the hormone ghrelin to lessen hunger pangs. Compared with glucose, fructose does not boost leptin nor does it reduce ghrelin which is why fructose-filled foods don't necessarily lessen your appetite.

    When you consume carbohydrates, particularly those that contain glucose, the glucose in the bloodstream works with a hormone called insulin to feed the brain and fuel the body. Too little glucose in your bloodstream could result in a condition called hypoglycemia which can result in unconsciousness or seizures if left untreated. Too much glucose in the bloodstream results in a conditional called hyperglycemia, often a precursor to diabetes.

    Carbohydrates are the main dietary source of glucose, such as potatoes, rice, tortillas, bread, and cereals. Keep in mind high carbohydrate intake endangers your heart.

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    References

    Diabetes.org.uk: The Implementation of Nutritional Advice for People with Diabetes - http://www.diabetes.org.uk/Documents/Professionals/nutrition_guidelines.pdf

    Sixwise.com: Glucose, Fructose and Sucrose: What’s the Difference Between These Sugars and Which is the Worst for Your Health? - http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/2009/april/29/glucose-fructose-sucrose-whats-the-difference.htm

    Healthnews.com: Glucose, Sucrose or Fructose: Is One Better Than Another? - http://www.healthnews.com/nutrition-diet/glucose-sucrose-or-fructose-is-one-better-than-another-3000.html

    Colorado State University Extention: Sugar and Sweeteners - http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09301.html

    Karlloren.com: Sugars and Artificial Sweeteners - http://www.karlloren.com/Diabetes/p23.htm

    Diabetesmonitor.com: What are Diabetic Foods? - http://www.diabetesmonitor.com/learning-center/glucose/misunderstandings-about-sugar.htm