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For total carbohydrates, including starch and sugars, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends a

Have You Ever Wondered

Have You Ever Wondered

. . . if honey or brown sugar is more nutritious than white sugar? That's a common misperception. Honey is several sugars (fructose, glucose, sucrose, and others), formed from nectar by bees. Ounce for ounce, the nutrients in honey and white (or table) sugar are nearly the same. Why a difference? A teaspoon of honey weighs slightly more than a teaspoon of white sugar, so it has slightly more calories and carbohydrate: a teaspoon of white sugar has about 15 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrate; a teaspoon of honey, about 21 calories and 4.5 grams of "carbs."

Honey is sweeter than white sugar, so you need less to sweeten foods. Brown sugar is merely sugar crystals, flavored with molasses. Nutritionwise, it too has about 15 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrate per teaspoon-about the same amounts as white sugar. No sugars contain vitamins, minerals, or fiber.

  • what refined sugar is? Refined sugar is most simply described as sugar, separated either from the stalk of sugarcane or from the root of a sugar beet. The sugar-containing juice of the plant is extracted, then processed into dried sugar crystals. It's sold as granulated or white sugar. Molasses is the thick syrup that's left after sugar beets or cane is processed for table sugar.
  • what raw sugar really is? Raw sugar comes from processing cane sugar. It's a coarse, granulated solid sugar left when clarified sugarcane juice evaporates. Because of its impurities, you can't buy 100 percent raw sugar. But you can buy turbinado sugar. Light-tan, turbinado sugar is raw sugar, refined in a centrifuge under sanitary conditions. Nutritionally speaking, its calorie and carbohydrate content are the same as refined, or table sugar. So-called natural sugars (raw sugar, date sugar, honey, maple syrup) aren't nutritionally better than other sugars.

minimum level for normal brain function and a range for overall healthy eating.

The Adequate Intake level (AI) is based on the lowest amount of glucose (blood sugar) needed daily for normal brain function. For people ages one year or over, that's a minimum of 130 grams of carbohydrate, which equals 520 calories, or 25 percent of the calories in a 2,000-calorie daily diet. The minimum needed for brain function is more than the amount recommended in the early stages of some weight loss regimens! The AI for pregnancy is 175 grams; for breast-feeding, 210 grams.

An eating plan that simply meets the AI for carbohydrates is likely inadequate for other nutrients and fiber, and may be high in fat. For that reason, the IOM set Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDR) for energy nutrients. For carbohydrates, that's a range of 45 to 65 percent (for children, teens, and adults) of total daily calories, adding up to 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates daily in a 2,000-calorie-a-day eating plan. The actual amount you need depends on your total calorie need; see chapter 2. For added sugars only, the advice is not more than 25 percent of

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