What Are the Functions of Sucrose in the Body?

Sucrose is a sugar, a simple carbohydrate, found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. It can also be extracted from sugar cane and sugar beets, refined, and sold as white granulated sugar, which you can use in cooking. While sucrose does have some functions in the body, it also has some negative effects.

Positive Functions

Your body uses sucrose as fuel for energy, like it uses other, more complex carbohydrates. During digestion, your body breaks down carbohydrates like starch, fiber and sucrose into the sugar molecule glucose. When glucose enters your intestines, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and then taken into your body’s cells, where it is converted into energy. Naturally occurring sucrose, like that found in fruit, is not necessarily bad for you. However, a diet high in sugar can have negative effects on your body.

Negative Effects

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sucrose can cause tooth decay because it fuels the bacteria that produce the plaque that causes cavities. Eating sucrose and other sugary foods can raise your risk of cavities and other dental problems. In addition, sucrose and other sugars are frequently added to processed foods to enhance flavor, increasing the calories but not the actual nutrients. This can lead to weight gain, particularly when these kinds of processed foods provide the bulk of your diet.

Daily Amounts

The amount of sucrose you consume when eating fruits and vegetables is not usually excessive, but you do need to be careful when eating foods with added sucrose, especially sweets and processed foods. According to the American Heart Association, women should limit their intake of added sucrose and other sugars to fewer than 100 calories a day, or around 6 teaspoons. Men should consume no more than 150 calories from added sucrose, or around 9 teaspoons.

Sucrose Substitutes

You can easily cut down on sucrose by using other sweeteners as substitutes for sugar. For example, instead of using white sugar in their morning cup of coffee, some people use aspartame or Splenda, two no-calorie sweeteners approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Many products that are typically high in added sugar, like soft drinks and ice cream, offer no-sucrose versions sweetened with a no-calorie sweetener. However, do not skimp on your fruits and vegetables just because they contain sucrose, as they are major sources of the vitamins and minerals you need to be healthy.