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Natural sugars are those that are found naturally in food, such as fruit (fructose) and dairy (lactose), as well as raw, unprocessed sources that are often added to food, like raw honey and pure maple syrup. These sugars retain their vitamins and minerals, which can enrich the nutrient profile of a healthy diet. Processed or refined sugars are those that originate from beets or cane and undergo extraction and purification processes, which ultimately turn them into a crystalline form to be added to food. These types of sugars are stripped of their nutrients, leaving them as a source of empty calories. Both natural and processed sugars have 4 calories per gram, which can add up quickly.
Related: How Sugar Affects Your Body
The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily added sugar to 6 teaspoons (100 calories) for women and 9 teaspoons (150 calories) for men to help prevent inflammation, obesity and related diseases, while the new US Dietary Guidelines recommends limiting added sugars to less than 10% of your daily calories, which equates to 200 calories or 50 grams of sugar if you’re eating a 2,000-calorie diet.