Inverted Sugar: What Is It, and How Does It Affect Your Glucose or Metabolism?

What is inverted sugar? How does it affect metabolism? Learn how to make inverted sugar at home.

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by
Chikodi Chima
— Signos
Staff Writer
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Reviewed by

Chikodi Chima
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Updated by

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Science-based and reviewed

Published:
April 23, 2024
February 19, 2023
— Updated:

Table of Contents

Inverted sugar is a common ingredient in the modern diet, and like anything you eat, inverted sugar has positive and negative aspects. Unlike granulated sugar, many people prefer inverted sugar because it can be easier on the body, but it’s not without its own drawbacks. Together let’s explore some of the science behind inverted sugar, its benefits, and its uses in confectionery and baking. We will delve into the process of inversion, the types of sugar involved, and the differences between simple and complex sugars. Additionally, we will compare inverted sugar with other sweeteners and explore its benefits and drawbacks.

What is Inverted Sugar?

Inverted sugar is a sugar syrup made by adding an acid, such as cream of tartar or citric acid from lemon juice, to regular cane sugar and heating it. This chemical reaction of breaking down sucrose is known as inversion, or hydrolysis, and results in a syrup that is sweeter and more soluble than regular sugar. 

 Inverted sugar has a number of benefits over granular sugar, including:

  • A smoother texture
  • A sweeter taste 
  • Superior moisture retention
  • Longer shelf life due to microbial resistance
  • A glossier finish that makes products more visually appealing

For these reasons, inverted sugar is a popular choice among bakers and food manufacturers. 

Foods that typically include inverted sugar include ice cream, fudge, confections, frostings, cake and pie fillings, ganache, cold beverages, sorbet, artificial honey, maple syrup, and even kombucha.

Compared to regular sugar crystals, inverted sugar has slightly fewer calories and is easily digested by the body, meaning it enters the bloodstream faster than regular sugar. This can benefit those with digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome, as it is less likely to cause an upset stomach. However, inverted sugar does have a higher glycemic index than regular sugar, meaning it can cause a spike in blood sugar levels.

Just like table sugar, it’s important to be mindful of the amount of inverted sugar that you consume. Also, be aware that inverted sugar lacks essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are found in regular sugar. These nutrients are important for overall health and well-being, so it is important to choose a balanced diet that includes both regular and inverted sugar in moderation, rather than relying on either type of sugar alone.

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Inverted Sugar vs Sugar

Sugar comes in many forms, with the most commonly used being glucose, sucrose, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, and table sugar.

The main difference between inverted sugar and regular sugar is their chemical structure. Inverted sugar is a mixture of glucose and fructose, while regular sugar (sucrose) is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose molecules bound together. Inverted sugar is also more soluble and hygroscopic (i.e., attracts and retains moisture) than regular sugar, making it useful for certain culinary applications. Additionally, because it is already broken down into glucose and fructose, inverted sugar can be metabolized more quickly by the body than regular sugar.

Nutritional Considerations of Inverted Sugar

When considering the nutritional intake of inverted sugar, there are three important considerations: calories, glycemic index, and nutritional value. Inverted sugar has fewer calories than regular sugar, but a higher glycemic index, meaning it can cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Additionally, inverted sugar intake does not provide the essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber found in regular sugar. It is important to choose a balanced diet that includes both regular and inverted sugar in moderation.

The American Heart Association guidelines suggest that added sugar should not exceed 25% of total daily calories, equivalent to 6 teaspoons (24g) of sugar per day.

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How to Make Inverted Sugar at Home

Making inverted syrup at home is super simple. Here's everything you will need:

Ingredients:

  • Water: 1 cup
  • White granulated sugar: 2 cups 

Tools:

  • Large saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measuring cups 
  • Candy thermometer - Optional

Instructions:

  1. Pour 1 cup of water into the saucepan and bring it to a boil.
  2. Add the 2 cups of white granulated sugar to boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved. 
  3. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool.
  5. Your inverted sugar is now ready to use. 

Serving Size:

Invert sugar contains about 46 calories and 13 grams of sugar per tablespoon.

Potential Side Effects of Inverted Sugar

Too much inverted sugar in your diet can lead to undesirable health effects. 

Potential downsides of excessive inverted sugar consumption include:

  1. Weight Gain - Consuming too much invert sugar can cause an increase in body fat and weight gain.
  2. Blood Sugar Fluctuations - Consuming too much inverted sugar can cause spikes in your blood sugar levels, followed by a crash.
  3. Tooth Decay - Excessive consumption of inverted sugar can cause tooth decay and cavities when the sugar eats away at the enamel of your teeth.
  4. Diabetes - Eating too much sugar greatly increases the risk of developing diabetes in those who are at risk due to its high glycemic index.
  5. Insulin Resistance - Eating too much inverted sugar can cause the body to become resistant to insulin, leading to potential health complications.
  6. Fatigue - Eating too much inverted sugar can lead to fatigue due to the body's inability to properly process and use the sugar.
  7. Heart Disease - Consuming too much inverted sugar can lead to an increased risk of heart disease due to an elevated risk of high cholesterol and triglycerides.

Inverted Sugar Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

What is inverted sugar?


Inverted sugar is a mixture of glucose and fructose molecules that are produced by breaking down sucrose, which is a type of sugar found in fruits and vegetables. It is often used in baking, candy making, and other food preparations.

What are the benefits of inverted sugar?


Inverted sugar has a sweeter taste than regular sugar, so it can be used to sweeten foods without adding as much sugar. Furthermore, inverted sugar is absorbed more quickly by the body so that it can provide a quick energy boost.

What are some common uses of inverted sugar?


Inverted sugar is often used in baking and confectionery, as it helps create a smoother texture and helps with browning. It can also be used in icings and frostings, as it prevents them from crystallizing.

Table-with-plates-with-desserts

What are the potential risks of consuming inverted sugar?

As with all types of sugar, consuming too much inverted sugar can lead to weight gain and metabolic health issues, such as diabetes and obesity. Additionally, inverted sugar can cause an increase in blood sugar levels if consumed in large amounts.

Are there any alternatives to inverted sugar?
 

Yes, there are several alternatives to inverted sugar. Natural sweeteners, such as honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup, can be used as an alternative to inverted sugar. Additionally, artificial sweeteners, such as stevia, can be used in place of inverted sugar.

Does inverted sugar contain any vitamins or minerals?


No, inverted sugar does not contain any vitamins or minerals. Therefore, it should not be used as a primary source of nutrition.

Is inverted sugar vegan-friendly?

Yes, inverted sugar is vegan-friendly, as it is derived from plant-based sources.

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References

About the author

Chikodi Chima is a journalist and author who has spoken internationally about health wearables.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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