The Secret Names For Sugar

Health Professional, Medical Reviewer

It is common knowledge that most Americans consume too much sugar, particularly from sugars added to foods. However, unless you have a strong knowledge of chemistry language, it may be difficult to identify many of the sugars that are hidden in the foods we eat. Even people who do not consume “sweets” may not realize that sugars are often added to foods to act as preservatives or to improve consistency or flavor. Here are some tips on how to find the hidden sugars in daily foods you eat:

Carbohydrates are one of the three essential macronutrients and are the primary energy source for all of our bodies’ functions. We classify carbohydrates as either “simple” or “complex” depending on their chemical structure.

Complex carbohydrates include starch and dietary fiber. Simple carbohydrates are classified as monosaccharides or disaccharides. Fructose, glucose and lactose are the most common monosaccharides; while sucrose, galactose and maltose are the most common disaccharides.

Nutritive sweeteners occur naturally or are added to foods. Examples include table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, fructose and lactose. They are called nutritive sweeteners because they all contain calories.

Non-nutritive sweeteners, commonly referred to as “artificial sweeteners,” are calorie-free, such as aspartame and saccharin. Non-nutritive sweeteners are added to many of the foods we eat and can be appealing to people living with diabetes because they can still enjoy the sweet flavor of foods they love without consuming the amount of carbohydrates that would be in foods with nutritive sweeteners.

Look at the ingredient listings for hidden sugars in foods. Many of these substances end in the suffix “-ose” or contain sugar alcohols that end in “-ol.”  Here are other names for sugar you might see in foods you eat each day:

  • Barley malt
  • Agave nectar
  • Molasses
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Cane juice
  • Cane sugar
  • Caramel
  • Brown sugar
  • Caramel syrup
  • Coconut sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Fructose
  • Date sugar
  • Dextrose
  • Florida crystals
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Raw sugar
  • Rice syrup
  • Sorghum
  • Sucrose
  • Treacle

The Bottom Line

Most experts agree that approximately 40 to 65 percent of the calories we consume each day should come from carbohydrates. The carbohydrates we eat should come primarily from natural, nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes. The amount of carbohydrates coming from sweets, added sugars and refined grains should be limited to achieve optimal health.

It is difficult to be a savvy consumer when sugar is disguised under so many different names. Remember that carbohydrates are essential to health, but limiting sugar in all forms is a good way to cut down on extra calories. All carbohydrates contain four calories per gram. Complex carbohydrates contain fiber, which takes longer for your body to digest, keeping you feeling fuller longer. Simple carbohydrates, such as all forms of sugar, are quickly digested and provide little nutritional value.

See More Helpful Articles

Hidden Sources of Sugar

The Safety of Artificial Sweeteners

Hidden Calories in Beverages