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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sugars and Starches, what's the difference?

Written by Tena Moore

Believe it or not, sugars and starches aren’t that different, since they are both carbohydrates. There are many different forms of sugar. It is also referred to as glucose, fructose, lactose, sucrose, etc. Sugar is a monosaccharide, oftentimes referred to as a simple sugar, and it can be found naturally in milk and most fruits. It can also be added to foods, as I’m sure you are aware of. When you see sugar grams listed on the nutritional information of food items it includes naturally occurring and added sugars.

Starch is a polysaccharide, meaning that it is a complex carbohydrate> that consists of many different glucose units bonded together, from 300 to 1000. Starch is made of sugar. Starch is also naturally occurring in many foods, from potatoes, peas, pinto beans and corn, to oats, barley, rice, wheat, pasta, and lentils. Starch is also the most important carbohydrate for the human body and a major source of energy. Since starch is made of glucose, it breaks down into glucose (sugar) units.

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate and starch is a complex carbohydrate made of many sugars. Both sugar and starch are needed for the body to be provided the energy needed to function properly.

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  • Carbohydrates require energy to burn them off
  • Scientists Find Eating a High-Carb Breakfast Promotes Long-term Weight Loss


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    Monday, November 17, 2008

    What is Sugar?

    Sugar is a sweet crystalline carbohydrate that is obtained by crystallizing the evaporated juice of certain plants. Sugar can be made from sorghum, beet root, sugar maple, sugar cane, sugar beet, honey and fruit. Sugar is a food carbohydrate and is added to many foods and drinks for its sweet flavor. Too much sugar can cause tooth decay and is also associated with obesity. Sugar enters the blood stream quickly and can cause an unhealthy spike in blood sugar levels, causing and aggravating type 2 diabetes. They are many different types of sugars, though the most common, white table sugar created from sugar cane, is referred to as sucrose and is the most processed and unhealthy of sugars. Fructose is fruit sugar and can be found in fruits, maple syrup and honey. Lactose is the sugar found in milk. Maltose is sugar derived from malted grains such as sorghum and barley. Glucose is found in most root vegetables, as well as fruits, sweet corn and honey.

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    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    What are Whole Grains?

    Whole grains are grains that have not been refined. In other words, whole grains have not had their bran and germ removed by milling. Whole grains retain their vitamins and minerals naturally, are a good source of complex carbohydrates, and offer many nutrients such as magnesium, potassium and selenium. Barley, brown rice, bulgar, oatmeal, popcorn, wild rice, buckwheat and sprouted grains are all whole grains. Whole grains are a rich source of dietary fiber and have been proven to reduce coronary heart disease, diabetes, digestive diseases, some forms of cancer and obesity. The carbohydrates of whole grains are digested gradually and enter the bloodstream slowly, making them more nutritious and protective for the body than refined or ‘enriched’ grains.

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    Thursday, November 6, 2008

    Restricting Carbs Changes Liver Processes

    Most Americans will agree: restricting carbohydrates is a good way to lose weight. Take out the bread, pastries and other high carbohydrate foods and the weight drops off. Regardless Americans have been increasing their consumption of carbohydrates and restricting fat intake. Most people look at fats to determine what they will eat and choose low fat options, even if this means high carbohydrates.

    Subsequently, obesity is higher than it has ever been and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is becoming a major health issue. Even small children are being hit with this disease. If not treated right away, it can lead to cirrhosis, fibrosis and inflammation of the liver, which oftentimes leads to a liver transplant. Usually the disease can be reversed by eating healthy, exercising and losing weight.

    Jeffery Brown of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center put together a study to find out the difference in metabolism when people eat low-carbohydrate diets, low-calorie diets, and balanced diets. Previous studies had suggested that a high-carb diet could lead to fatty deposits in the liver.

    For the study, fourteen people with a body-mass-index (BMI) between 25 and 35 were chosen, along with 7 healthy subjects with a BMI less than 25. They split the fourteen subjects with a 25 to 35 BMI into two groups and had them follow either a low-calorie diet or a low-carbohydrate diet for two weeks. The other seven subjects with a healthy BMI followed their regular, healthy diet. All subjects had to undergo an overnight metabolic study assessing the metabolic pathways of the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA cycle) and the hepatic glucose production cycle.

    What they found was that the weight healthy group with a BMI of under 25 who ate carbs as a normal part of their diet had enough energy to create glucose formation through the TCA cycle. Those who restricted their carbs did not.

    The researchers found that a low-carbohydrate diet modifies hepatic energy metabolism and creates a dependence on lactate and amino acids for glucose production by the liver, instead of the liver using glycerol. A low carbohydrate diet also caused the liver to create more glucose with lactate or amino acids – increasing the rate of glucose formation. Unfortunately, they did not measure the amount of fatty acid that was delivered to the liver.

    They also found that all groups had similar hepatic glucose production. While the healthy group and the low calorie groups maintained glucose production levels normally, the low carb group maintained the same by increasing glucose using amino acids and lactose.

    The study was reported in the November 2008 issue of Hepatology.

    The researchers suggest that this shift in glucose metabolism could be helpful to those who have NAFLD and need to dispose of hepatic fat. More studies are planned to measure fatty acid deposits and more.

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    Disclaimer: The information provided here is for informational purposes and is not medical advice. Individuals wishing to use supplements or alternative medicine therapies should consult with their doctor beforehand.

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