Sugar is like Snoop Dogg or P Diddy: they get multiple new names on a yearly basis. At this point, sugar leads the way with over 100 different names that you can find on food labels. Sugar is something that I hope by now we all know we should be avoiding; it spikes our insulin levels resulting in weight gain, hormone disruptions, inflammation and a host of other chemical processes that cause many of the common diseases we struggle with today. Yet, it can be difficult to remove from our diet when it’s disguised in our foods with terms like maltodextrin or cane juice. This article will give you the knowledge you need to seriously stay sugar-free.
Why Are There So Many Different Names For Sugar on Food Labels?
Food manufactures know that when they add sugar to foods, us humans will enjoy the taste. More importantly, many of us will become addicted (sugar is one of the most addictive substances available) and continue to purchase it. That said, there has been a lot of scrutiny around sugar these days so consumers tend to stray away from foods that contain it in high amounts. To trick us, food manufactures have created many different names for sugar to disguise it in our foods.
Secondly, the ingredient list has to be sorted in order of highest to lowest containing ingredients. To get around this, they use multiple versions of sugar. This way, each type is used in smaller amounts and they can all be moved to the end of the ingredients list.. of course, still in their disguised names. Overall, the sugar content is the same but it doesn’t look that way to the average consumer!
Frustrating? Agreed. Here’s what you need to know.
What Are Other Names for Sugar?
Just like our boys Puff Daddy aka Puffy, P. Diddy and Snoop dogg aka Snoop or Snoop Lion (is that really a thing?), it’s difficult to know all the names that simply mean “sugar”. Here is a list from Food the book, by Dr. Mark Hyman (Medical Doctor and chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine) to keep handy next time you’re shopping at the grocery store:
- Anything with the word “agave”
- Anything with the word “corn” (unless it’s whole corn) like high-fructose corn syrup or corn sweetener
- Any derivative of rice (except vinegar), like brown rice syrup
- Anything that begins with the word cane, like cane juice or cane syrup
- Any word with the suffix “ose”, like fructose, dextrose, sucrose, etc.
- Anything with the word “malt”, like malt syrup or flo-malt or maltodextrin
- Anything with the prefix “iso”, like isoglucose or isomaltulose
- Anything with the word syrup
- Anything sweet like molasses
- And of course, anything with the word “sugar” in it. Even if it sounds natural like, date sugar, coconut sugar, brown sugar, etc.
Take a look through your cupboards now and see how many foods you have that contain these words, I bet you’ll be surprised!
Are Some Sugars Better Than Others?
Since refined sugar became well known as the “enemy”, there have been many alternatives on the market to help with our sweet tooth. There are artificial sweeteners (like aspartame), natural sweeteners (like stevia), alcohol sugars, and natural sugars (like cane sugar and agave sugar). While some of these sound healthy and may even contain some beneficial substances like antioxidants, the positives don’t outweigh the negatives. Unfortunately, studies are showing that all of these sweeteners, even though they may be plant-based, are still causing an insulin spike to a similar extent as normal sugar. This means, they will still cause weight gain and the host of other problems associated with sugar. Sorry Stevia fans!
What Foods Contain High Amounts of Sugar?
You’ll be surprised by how many foods in our grocery stores contain added sugar; it’s mind blowing! Below is a list of some of the common foods and categories of foods that contain added sugar, however this can also easily be summed up in one simple sentence. If the food is packaged and processed, it more than likely has some form of added sugar in it. It’s not 100% all of them, but there is a pretty good chance. If it’s in a package and/or processed the bells in your head should go off and you should be turning that package around and diving into the ingredient list. Here’s a quick list to give you an idea of common foods that contain high amounts of sugar:
- Salad dressing
- Sauces and condiments
- Fruit Juices and “Health” drinks (water is a health drink, please just drink that)
- Energy drinks
- Bread, bagels and buns
- Peanut Butter, Nutella and most spreads
- Granola and Granola Bars
- Baked goods
- Chocolate snacks and Candy (obviously)
One thing to remember is that the biggest problem is the sugar that food companies put in our food, not so much the sugar you put in your food (to an extent). If you want to use small amounts of stevia or even table sugar to sweeten up something you are baking or cooking, then that’s ok, provided you eat a predominately whole food diet already. On the other hand, if you eat a lot of packaged and/or processed foods then there’s a good chance you’re consuming a significantly high amount of sugar already. Take a look at the foods you eat and use the lists above to help you make healthier food choices moving forward!