Dextrose Vs. Sucrose

white sugar in a bowl
Large bowl of sugar on a countertop. (Image: Magone/iStock/Getty Images)

Sugar may seem like a straight-forward topic requiring little explanation, yet all sugars are not quite the same. Dextrose and sucrose do share a lot in common, including their ability to give you a quick shot of energy, but they’re also different in some important ways. Sucrose tastes sweeter than dextrose, which may influence the amount used when it's added to foods.The two types also do not have the same effect on your blood sugar.

Dextrose and Sucrose Compared

Plants produce dextrose and sucrose, but each sugar has a different structure. Dextrose is identical to glucose, or blood sugar. It consists of just one molecule of sugar, which makes it a type of carbohydrate called a simple sugar. Plants store dextrose as starch, so it’s easily extracted from corn starch to create a sweetener. Sucrose is also a simple sugar but it’s made from one molecule of glucose connected to one molecule of fructose. Sucrose is better known as table sugar, which is extracted from cane sugar and sugar beets.

Both Provide Energy

Sucrose and dextrose both serve one important role in the body: They provide the body's favorite source of energy. Since they're simple sugars, they're quickly digested for rapid energy. Dextrose is ready to be absorbed into your system, but digestive enzymes must break sucrose apart into single molecules.Then, molecules of glucose pass from the small intestine into your bloodstream, where they go to cells for energy. Fructose travels to your liver for further metabolism.

Impact on Blood Sugar

Even though they’re both simple sugars, sucrose and dextrose each have a different effect on your blood sugar. The glycemic index rates foods according to how quickly they increase blood sugar levels compared to glucose, or dextrose. Glycemic scores range from zero to 100, with pure glucose at 100 and any score of 70 or higher indicating that the food causes a big spike in blood sugar. By comparison, plain sucrose has a glycemic score of 68, which indicates it only has a moderate effect on blood sugar.

Natural Versus Added

Most fruits and a variety of vegetables naturally contain varying amounts of dextrose and sucrose. The fiber found in fruits and vegetables changes the glycemic impact of both types of sugar. Fiber slows down carbohydrate digestion, so naturally occurring dextrose and sucrose enter your blood at a gradual pace. However, both sugars are also added to foods as sweeteners. In this form they exert their normal glycemic effect. Added sugars also contribute 4 calories per gram of sugar without any nutritional benefit. Eating too much added sugar increases your risk for gaining weight. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume less than 6 teaspoons of added sugar daily, while men should limit their intake to fewer than 9 teaspoons.

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