Home Sugar Basics Other Names for Sugar - What to Look out for in Food Labels

Other Names for Sugar - What to Look out for in Food Labels

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 Us?

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 food and nutrition labels, 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 Exactly?

Sugar is the simplest compound that the body needs to produce ATP, which provides your body with energy. Most forms of sugar are considered "simple sugars" because they contain only 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. The sections below will help guide you in spotting all forms of sugar listed on your food labels.

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 mention any of these six sugars then they contain added sugar.

Natural Sugars

Natural sugars are those found in food that hasn’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 and have the same number of calories, and don’t help when it comes to weight loss.

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.

Processed and refined sugars tend to be found in sodas, candies, table sugar, sports drinks, bread, pastries, cereals, pasta, dairy, yogurt, juices, and much more. It's not uncommon to see high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, 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 sort of added sugar. Some common examples are maple syrup, corn syrup, and different types of nectars.

Are Honey and Molasses Considered "Sugar"?

Some people may be under the impression 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 sweeteners.

42 Other Names for Sugar

When reading food labels, it's important to be aware of the common names that essentially act as code words for sugar. Here are 42 different names for sugar that you may not be aware of:

Dextrose

Treacle 

Fructose

Barley malt

Galactose

Blackstrap molasses

Glucose

Brown rice syrup

Lactose

Buttered sugar/buttercream

Maltose

Caramel

Sucrose

Carob syrup

Cane juice crystals

Corn syrup

Confectioner’s sugar (aka, powdered sugar)

Evaporated cane juice

Corn syrup solids

Fruit juice

Crystalline fructose

Fruit juice concentrate

Dextrin

Golden syrup

Diastatic malt

High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

Ethyl maltol

Honey

Florida crystals

Malt syrup

Glucose syrup solids

Maple syrup

Maltodextrin

Molasses

Muscovado sugar

Rice syrup

Sucanat

Refiner’s syrup

Turbinado sugar

Sorghum syrup

Agave Nectar/Syrup

Demerara sugar

Bottom Line

If you're trying to avoid sugar, it's important to make an effort to read every food label in order to fully understand what exactly you're putting into your body. Having a basic understanding of how sugar is listed along with all of its alter-egos can help immensely when it comes to finally winning the battle over sugar.