- Sugar has many different names, which can make it difficult to cut added sugar from your diet.
- Reducing your added-sugar intake can benefit your health and even help with weight loss.
- Here are 71 names for sugar you should look for on nutrition labels.
We eat a lot of sugar – more than most of us. And while we know to limit sweet treats like candy and ice cream, sugar is also hiding in some surprising foods—like bread, nut milk, and even salad dressing.
Because sugar has many names – some you may not even recognize as sugar.
“Yes, sugar is hiding in plain sight,” says Dr. Whitney Bowe Sugar free 3.
“And it can be called something other than ‘sugar,'” she says. “Cane sugar, sucrose, fructose, agave nectar, high fructose corn syrup — but sugar is sugar, no matter how you make it. There are over sixty different names for sugar!
How can you cut back on sugar if you don’t recognize it on the nutrition label? Here’s what you need to know about these other names for sugar so you can make more conscious food choices.
Think you already know how to handle your sugar? Before you read on, test your knowledge and see how many hidden sugars you can spot!
Take the quiz!
What is added sugar?
Before we get into the other names of sugar, we must first distinguish between the two main ways we get it in our diet – aka natural sugar and added sugar.
“Fruits and grains naturally contain sugars that come with fiber, vitamins, and minerals,” says Emily Tilles, MS, RDN, CDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Syracuse, New York. “Added sugar is sugar that doesn’t occur naturally in foods – it’s usually added to sweeten or flavor foods.”
Added sugars are empty calories, Till explains.
They don’t provide the fiber, vitamins and minerals — from eating a piece of fresh fruit, for example — that help your body process sugar more healthily.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that we consume no more than 10 percent of our daily calories from added sugar.
And the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to less than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day for women and less than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) per day for men.
71 Other names for sugar
By some accounts, there are over 250 other names for sugar. “Avoiding sugar can be difficult if you don’t make a conscious effort and know what to look for,” says Dr. Bowe.
Here are some of the sugar names you’ll likely find on the ingredients list. When you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake, be careful of sugar hiding under these aliases.
- agave juice
- Agave nectar
- Agave syrup, all kinds
- bit of sugar
- Blackstrap molasses
- Brown rice syrup
- brown sugar
- Butter syrup
- Cane juice
- Cane juice crystals
- Cane syrup
- Carob syrup
- Castor sugar
- coconut sugar
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Corn glucose syrup
- Corn syrup
- Corn syrup solids
- Date sugar/syrup
- Demerara sugar
- Ethyl Malt
- Evaporated cane juice
- Flow drawing
- Florida crystal
- Fructose sweetener
- fruit juice
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Glucose is solid
- Golden sugar
- Golden syrup
- Granular sweet
- zinc sugar
- grape sugar
- High fructose corn syrup (an added sugar derived from corn starch and commonly found in processed foods)
- honey bake
- dry sugar
- Inverted sugar (aka inverted sugar)
- Malt syrup
- Maple sugar
- Maple syrup
- Muscovoda sugar
- sugar pan
- powdered sugar
- raw sugar
- Refiner’s syrup
- Rice syrup
- Sorghum syrup
- Starch is sweet
- Sugar beet plant
- Treacle or treacle sugar
- Turbocharged sugar
- unrefined sugar
- yellow sugar
What is the difference between glucose and fructose?
Glucose and fructose are two different types of sugar. Both are found naturally in foods and contain the same amount of calories.
But glucose and fructose have different chemical structures and are digested and metabolized differently once consumed.
Glucose is a monosaccharide, meaning it is a simple unit of sugar that is one molecule.
“Glucose is what our body uses for energy and is stored as glycogen in our muscles and liver,” Tills says.
Fructose, also a monosaccharide, is a naturally occurring sugar in fruit. When converted to glucose in the liver, our bodies use it for energy, Tills explains.
Fructose from fruit is allowed in moderation on some sugar-free plans, but added fructose — such as from high-fructose corn syrup or agave syrup — has been linked to negative health effects in excess.
What sweets are allowed on a sugar-free diet?
It depends on the diet, but generally speaking, naturally occurring sugars (such as sugar in fruit and milk) can be part of a healthy diet. Here are a few types of sweets that you may be allowed to eat on a sugar-free diet.
1. Naturally Carbohydrate Foods
Regarding some sugar-free plans, Tills says, “Naturally occurring sugars may still be included, so you can still get your fruits, vegetables and grains.”
These include fructose from fresh fruit and lactose from milk.
2. Sugar alcohols
Some sugar-free diets also allow foods containing sugar alcohols, while others do not.
These compounds—which can occur naturally or be chemically produced—taste sweet, but they’re not absorbed like sugar and don’t have the same effect on blood sugar, but still contain calories.
Some sugar alcohols you may find on ingredient labels include:
- Hydrogenated starch hydrolysate
Pro tip: If you see an “itol” at the end of it, that means it’s a sugar alcohol, says Michele Pramalaico, author of Sugar free 3.
“It’s not a great name for them because they’re not sugar or alcohol,” she says “They are, however, chemically processed artificial sweeteners, so they’re a no-go in our program.”
Because they are slowly and incompletely absorbed through the digestive system, sugar alcohols can cause stomach discomfort, bloating, and gas in humans.
3. Monk fruits
Monk fruit sweetener – an extract that is 25 to 100 times sweeter than sugar – is a non-nutritive sweetener that does not add calories.
This natural sweetener is 50 to 350 times sweeter than table sugar. Because stevia is a plant extract and does not add calories, some sugar-free foods may allow 100 percent stevia extract.