What is sugar? What are sugar alternatives?
Sugar is everywhere. It’s in most foods you eat and you don’t realize it. Even when you’re eating something that doesn’t taste “sweet” and you wouldn’t consider a dessert or sweet treat, it still probably has sugar in it. Below is a huge handy list of ingredients that essentially are sugar in one form or another or have sugar in them. I’ve also included a list of sugar alternatives. It’s a reminder to ALWAYS read labels if you’re on a low sugar diet, or watching your sugar intake. Because sugar won’t always be spelled out S-U-G-A-R for you. It’s spelled many different ways as you can see our list of 59 other names for sugar. But first…..
Why are there so many different names for sugar?
Companies are required by law to label their uppermost ingredients first on a nutrition label. By splitting the sugar up into different names, they don’t have to put “SUGAR” as the first ingredient (or second). So essentially they are tricking you into not seeing the high sugar content of products you’re eating. Kinda scary, right?
59 Other Names for Sugar
Below is an extensive list of ingredients you’d find on packaged foods that have been disguised, but are really sugar. Sugar alternatives (scroll down to see list below this list) can be helpful if you’re trying to lower your sugar intake.
- agave syrup or agave nectar – found in organic foods
- barley malt – found in malt beers, cereals, candy bars
- beet sugar – found in more than 20% of the world’s sugar, usually genetically modified
- brown rice syrup – found in rice milk, cereal bars
- brown sugar – found in baked goods, sauces, beverages
- buttered sugar (buttercream) – found in frosting, icing
- cane juice – found in beverage, in liquor
- cane juice crystals – found in yogurt, baked goods like cake and cookies
- cane sugar – found in 80% of world’s sugar
- caramel – found in soda, candy
- carob syrup – found in sub for chocolate, cakes, cookies
- castor sugar (superfine sugar) – found in mixed drinks, baking products
- coconut sugar – found in diabetic sweeteners, alternative foods (lower on glycemic food index than other sugars)
- corn sweetener – found in cough syrups, antacids, liquid sweeteners, frozen foods
- corn syrup – found in soda, fast food
- corn syrup solids – found in coffee creamers, dry beverage mixes
- confectioner’s sugar – found in frosting, icing
- date sugar – found in healthier baked goods, more natural since it’s made from chopped up dates, however still high in sugar content.
- Demerara sugar – found in baked goods, used as sweetener for coffee or tea (large-grained sugar, caramel taste)
- dextran – food additive
- dextrose – found in baked goods and desserts
- diastatic malt – found in milk shakes, flavored syrups
- diastase – found in milk, barley
- ethyl maltol – found in confectionary and baked goods
- evaporated cane juice – found in baked goods, beverages, cereal
- free flowing brown sugar – a shaker bottle to add sugar to whatever you’d like
- fructose – found in soft drinks, naturally occurring in fruits and honey
- fruit juice
- fruit juice concentrate
- galactose – found in fast food, dairy products
- glucose – found in fruits, honey, baked goods, fast food
- golden sugar – found in meringues, biscuits
- golden syrup – found in pancake topping, desserts
- high fructose corn syrup – found in soda, yogurts, frozen food, fast food, cereal bars, mac and cheese, breads, etc.
- icing sugar – found in baked goods, desserts
- invert sugar – found in soda, baked goods, candy (NOT vegan, vegetarian, kosher or Halal)
- lactose – found in dairy products
- maltodextrin – found in beer, soda, candy, processed foods
- maltose – found in beer
- malt syrup – found in baked goods, diabetic alternative foods
- mannitol – found in sweetener for diabetic food
- maple syrup
- molasses – found in baked beans, gingerbread
- Muscovado – brown sugar replacement
- Oat syrup – found in granola bars, cereals, baked goods
- panocha – found in desserts (combo of brown sugar, milk and butter)
- powdered sugar – found in baked goods, frosting, icing
- raw sugar – Note that it’s still processed and refined with chemicals added. Might sound “healthy”, but it’s not really much healthier than regular granulated sugar.
- rice bran syrup – dietary supplement for B-vitamin
- rice syrup – found in baked goods, granola bars
- sorbitol – found in sugar free chewing gum, diabetic candy
- sorghum – found in baked goods, beer
- sorghum syrup – topping for breakfast foods
- sucrose – found in baked goods, ice cream
- treacle – found in tarts, merengues, desserts
- tapioca syrup – found in fruit drinks, cereals
- Turbinado sugar – found in baked goods
- yellow sugar – found in marshmallow candy, baked goods
What is sugar?
I am sure you’ve seen sugar listed on nutrition fact labels on food products under Carbohydrates. So, essentially sugar is a carb. It’s pretty much nutrition-less. Most sugar you use in your food comes from either a beet or sugar cane plant. These plants are processed and refined to look like the little white crystals you add to your coffee or other foods you make. There are a few good sugar alternatives you might want to check out if you’re trying to stop a sugar addiction or reduce your sugar intake. See full list below.
Naturally Occurring Sugars
Fructose – Comes fruit fruit, honey, sugar cane and some vegetables.
Glucose – AKA Dextrose. From fruits, veggies and honey. A big part of corn syrup. It’s the most common sugar. Our bodies use this for fuel.
Sucrose – This is what you commonly use in recipes. It’s available in many forms: granulated white sugar, raw sugar, Turbinado sugar and powdered sugar. Comes from either sugar cane or sugar beets.
Lactose – Milk sugar.
Popular Sugar Alternatives
Sugar alternatives are sweeteners that you can use in place of sugar when creating a recipe or just sweetening your tea/coffee. Use your best judgement when choosing sugar alternatives.
Honey – Seems to be the best healthy alternative sweetener option. Even has health benefits such as lowering blood glucose spikes (in lab rats compared to other sugars). It is high in sugars still though.
Stevia – Comes naturally from a plant in the sunflower family. 300 times sweeter than table sugar, so using in smaller quantities is recommended. Minimal adverse effects from consuming stevia, plus it has a low effect on glucose levels.
Sucralose – It’s a popular alternative sweetener that is zero calorie. You might know it as Splenda. It’s also found in some protein powders. It’s 600 times sweeter than sugar, so using it in smaller quantities than you would table sugar is recommended.
Agave Nectar – Interestingly this comes from an agave plant (aka cactus). So you’d think it was healthy, but it’s highly processed (similar to the processing of high fructose corn syrup) and it’s really high in fructose!
Aspertame – Found in most diet sodas, along with some yogurts. It’s not good for you, at all. I’ve experienced anxiety when consuming it. There are also studies out there that suggest it can cause cancer, but I don’t think they’ve been proven yet.
Saccharin – Higher sweetness, so use in smaller quantities. Has been linked to cancer in some studies.
This post was really just to let you know the answer to “what is sugar?” and give you pointers on where to find sugar in your packaged foods. Always read labels. Always make yourself aware. Only you can change your health. No one else controls your diet. You must take the lead on what you consume. Being aware and being conscience of what is going into your body makes all the difference in your health. Use sugar alternatives when you can, but educate yourself on which are the healthy ones vs the unhealthy ones. Reach out to me anytime with questions about this or anything else. Kelly@healthyhappysmart.com — or comment below!