Sugar in disguise

I love this Cleveland Clinic “love your heart” icon February is love your heart month and a perfect time to stress the importance of taking care of this very important organ that powers everything we do. Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the US and the link between too much sugar and heart disease has been well established.


Knowing that people are attempting to avoid sugar, food manufacturers have come up with lots of different ways to say the same thing or disguise added sugars in their processed food products.  Sugars are sometimes called simple carbohydrates and natural sources of simple carbohydrates, such as fruit, vegetables and milk, also contain vitamins, minerals, protein (in the case of milk) and fiber (in fruits and vegetables).

“Added sugars are any type of sugar, be it white sugar (sucrose), molasses, honey, etc, which are added to a food before selling it. Some whole foods have sugars in them naturally, which are not counted as added sugars. So a basket of fresh strawberries does not have “added sugars,” but a package of frozen strawberries packed in syrup does have added sugars. Although sweet foods usually come to mind when we think of sugars, almost all processed food has them, including condiments, soups, and pasta sauces.” Manufacturers also add sugars to most processed foods these days, because people buy more sweet foods.

Read labels to know how much added sugar you are getting. Sometimes there will be small amounts of many types of sugars, so none of them end up being in the first few ingredients of the label. Other times, sugar masquerades as apparently more “healthy” ingredients, such as honey, rice syrup, or even “organic dehydrated cane juice”. These are sugar. Sometimes fruit juice concentrates will be used, which sound wholesome, but usually the juices chosen, such as white grape, apple, and pear juices, are among the least nutritious of the juices. By the time they are “concentrated”, very little remains but the sugar.

Here is a list of some of the possible code words for “sugar” which may appear on a label. The words “syrup”, “sweetener”, and anything ending in “ose” can usually be assumed to be “sugar”. If the label says “no added sugars”, it should not contain any of the following, although the food could contain naturally occurring sugars (such as lactose in milk).

  • Agave Nectar
  • Barley Malt Syrup
  • Beet Sugar
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cane Crystals (or, even better, “cane juice crystals”)
  • Cane Sugar
  • Coconut Sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
  • Dehydrated Cane Juice
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Malodextrin
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Palm Sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Rice Syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum or sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado Sugar
  • Xylose

Your body doesn’t care what the label says, it’s all just “sugar”!

From ‘Sugars Many Disguises’ by Laura Dolson on



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