Sugar is in up to 90% of foods found in the grocery store, and there is a great deal of concern that people are consuming way more than what’s healthy. High-sugar diets have been strongly associated with inflammation, obesity, as well as type II diabetes. Given this information, it is important to monitor daily sugar intake to help you cut back on calories and improve your chances of successful weight loss. While reading food labels is important to help you track sugar intake, sugar is hidden under so many different names, it’s hard to always know when there’s added sugar. Consider this article your ultimate guide to alternative names of sugar to look for when reading food labels.
What Do Food Labels Tell About Food?
Whenever you purchase food from the store that contains any packaging, it should come with a food label. The federal government requires this condensed chart that tells you (the consumer) what you are eating. Every food label must list the calories per serving, fat, carbs, protein, sugar, and certain vitamins. In recent years, manufacturers were supposed to start listing added sugars separately from all sugars, but that requirement has been delayed. In addition to listing the primary macronutrients, food labels list every single ingredient that makes up the product. This is where you can look to see if you are eating added sugars.
What is Sugar?
Sugar is the simplest compound that the body needs to produce ATP, which is energy. Most forms of sugar are considered simple sugars because they contain one or two sugar molecules. With that said, there are many different forms of sugar that you should be aware of if you want to successfully reduce your consumption. Read the sections below to help guide you in reading food labels.
What are Common Sugar Types
Whenever you refer to sugar, the most basic forms that you will come across include glucose, sucrose, fructose, dextrose, maltose, and lactose. These six sugars are naturally occurring in the environment, but are often processed by humans and machines as a way to sweeten and enhance the flavor of foods. Foods that contain sugar are likely to contain one or several of these forms. Table sugar can be dextrose or sucrose, fructose is the sugar generally found in fruits and vegetables, maltose can be found in some cereals, and lactose is commonly referred to as the dairy sugar. If your food labels mentions any of these six sugars then they contain added sugar.
Natural Sugar Types
Natural sugars are those found in food that haven’t been added by humans. For example, fruit, vegetables, and milk all contain natural sugars. Most health authorities suggest consuming your sugar from these sources because they contain other valuable nutrients. However, natural sugars are still sugar, still have the same number of calories, and don’t help when it comes to weight loss.
Other Names for Processed and Refined Sugars
In comparison to natural sugars, processed and refined sugars are generally added to foods as a way to enhance flavor or increase shelf life. The process of extracting the sugar from a natural source tends to strip out all of the nutritive value. Processed and refined sugars are considered worse for your health than natural sugars and they are usually the most commonly consumed type of sugar. They tend to be found in sodas, candies, table sugar, sports drinks, breads, pastries, cereals, pastas, dairy, yogurt, juices, and much more. You should look out for high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, fruit juice, sorghum, and others as descriptors on food labels.
What are Syrups?
If you see the word “syrup” on an ingredient list, it’s usually some kind of added sugar. Some examples are maple syrup, corn syrup, and different types of nectars.
Are Honey and Molasses Considered Sugar?
Some people may think that honey and molasses are healthier than other kinds of sugar because they’re found in nature, but they’re no better for you. One tablespoon of honey has about 17 grams of sugar, while the same amount of molasses has 15 grams of sugar. Be mindful that manufacturers may add honey or molasses to make the food seem healthier, but it’s not much healthier for you than if they had added a similar amount of white sugar or other sweetener.
Tricky Names for Sugar
The final thing you should be aware of when reading food labels is to watch out for other names that are code words for sugar. These include mannitol, beet sugar, and turbinado. Usually, these sources sound healthy and they may have a better original source, but overall they still contribute sugar to your diet. Do not fall for the turbinado trick (you’ll see turbinado marketed as Sugar in the Raw)— manufacturers make you think that this better for you than sugar. Those little brown packets seem healthier—they’re raw, aren’t they?—but chemically, turbinado is just slightly less refined than table sugar.
Complete List of Names for Sugar
Here are 60 different names for sugar that you may not be aware of:
|Agave nectar||Dehydrated cane juice||Maltol|
|Barbados sugar||Demerara sugar||Maltose|
|Barley malt syrup||Dextrose||Maple syrup|
|Beet sugar||Evaporated cane juice||Molasses|
|Buttered syrup||Fruit juice||Palm sugar|
|Cane juice||Fruit juice concentrate||Panocha|
|Cane juice crystals||Glucose||Powdered sugar|
|Cane sugar||Glucose solids||Raw sugar|
|Caramel||Golden sugar||Refiner’s syrup|
|Carob syrup||Golden syrup||Rice syrup|
|Castor sugar||Granulated sugar||Saccharose|
|Coconut palm sugar||Grape sugar||Sorghum syrup|
|Coconut sugar||HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup)||Sucrose|
|Confectioner’s sugar||Honey||Sweet sorghum|
|Corn sweetener||Icing sugar||Syrup|
|Corn syrup||Invert sugar||Treacle|
|Corn syrup solids||Malt syrup||Turbinado sugar|
|Date sugar||Maltodextrin||Yellow sugar|
If you are trying to avoid sugar, you need to learn to read every food label and understand what you are putting into your body. Having a basic understanding of what sugar is often called can help you immensely when it comes to finally winning your battle with sugar.