Natural Sugars vs Refined Sugars

What are refined sugars?

Refined sugars are sugars and syrups that are modified, combined and/or processed to produce a standardized product such as white sugar.

Refined sugars add extra calories without adding any nutrients, antioxidants or fiber. Because refined sugars have no nutritional value, they break down very quickly when they are eaten giving you a quick burst of energy followed by a crash. In addition, when you eat too much sugar it is converted into fat.

What are natural sugars?

Natural sugars are found in foods such as dates. These sugars may be concentrated but they still contain many of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibers found in the whole food.

All the extra nutrition and fiber slows down the digestion of natural sugar. This gives you sustained energy.

How much refined sugar do people eat?

The average American eats 74.5 pounds of sugar a year! That is over six pounds of sugar each month (or a bag and a half of white sugar)!

From 2001-2004 Americans ate a total of 22.2 teaspoons of sugar a day (355 calories, 88.8 grams, 47 hard candies) from all sources (Johnson et al. 2009).

Eating an extra 200 calories of sugar is equal to a potential weight gain of almost 21 pounds a year.

What are the health risks of refined sugars?

Since refined sugar is empty calories it promotes weight gain. In addition, consuming too much refined sugar in foods or beverages increases your risk of metabolic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and stroke (Hu 2013, DiNicolantonio et al. 2016).

Higher sugar intake is linked with worse psychological health (Knüppel et al. 2017).

What kind of natural sugar does Shocolat use?

Shocolat uses date syrup. This super tasty natural sugar is high in nutrients and antioxidants. One study found that 100 grams of date syrup contains 605 mg polyphenols, 357 mg tannins, 40.5 mg flavonoids, and 31.7 mg flavanols (Taleb et al 2016). Antioxidants from plant based foods can suppress inflammation and protect against chronic diseases (Serafini and Peluso 2016).

What is a fun fact about date syrup?

Date syrup contains bioactive polyphenols that can suppress the growth of bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli (Taleb et al 2016)!


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Data. Hyattsville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2005–2012
  • DiNicolantonio JJ, Lucan SC, O'Keefe JH. The evidence for saturated fat and for sugar related to coronary heart disease. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2016 Mar-Apr;58(5):464-72. doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2015.11.006.
  • Hu FB. Resolved: There is sufficient scientific evidence that decreasing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption will reduce the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related diseases. Obesity reviews: an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity. 2013;14:606-619. doi:10.1111/obr.12040.
  • Johnson RK, Appel LJ, Brands M, et al. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation 2009;120:1011–20. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192627
  • Knüppel A, Shipley MJ, Llewellyn CH, Brunner EJ. Sugar intake from sweet food and beverages, common mental disorder and depression: prospective findings from the Whitehall II study. Scientific Reports. 2017;7:6287. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-05649-7.
  • Serafini M, Peluso I. Functional foods for health: the interrelated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory role of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and cocoa in humans. Curr Pharm Des. 2016;22:6701-6715. doi:10.2174/1381612823666161123094235.
  • Taleb H, Maddocks SE, Morris RK, Kanekanian AD. The Antibacterial Activity of Date Syrup Polyphenols against S. aureus and E. coli. Front. Microbiol. 2016 |