“Oh sugar, *do do do do do do* oh honey, honey.”
They’re the lyrics I hear when I think about the sweet stuff.
Sugar free diets are becoming quite popular lately with many people experiencing the benefits of weight-loss, increased energy and clearer skin. Overcoming a sugar addiction is quite difficult and pretty scary. Not only is it physically and mentally challenging; it’s also confusing! Walking into a supermarket and looking at nutrition labels is like reading a foreign language!
Sugar comes in many forms and has so many different names. So, what should you look out for when avoiding sugar? I’ve devised a list on some common and some not-so-common names for sugar and what they are. You may be surprised about the sugar you didn’t know you were eating!
Common Names for Sugar
- Brown Sugar
- Cane Sugar
- Demerara Sugar
- Lactose (the sugar in milk)
- Fructose (fruit sugar)
- Glucose (or dextrose)
- Sucrose (a mix of fructose & glucose – aka table sugar)
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Maple Syrup
- Turbinado Sugar (raw sugar)
- Muscavado Sugar
- Confectioner’s Sugar (icing sugar or powdered sugar)
- Golden Syrup
- Maple Syrup
Other forms of Sugar
- Agave Nectar or Syrup – Derived from the agave plant; it’s highly refined and almost 100% fructose.
- Barley malt syrup or malt extract– a grain based sugar derived from barley. It’s half as sweet and has a lower glycemic index compared to white sugar so you may be tempted to add more when using it.
- Beet Sugar – a sugar derived from beets which is just as common as cane sugar – usually from genetically modified crops.
- Molasses – processed molasses has some nutrients, like folate and iron, but the suplhured kind is high in empty calories and contains sulphur dioxide (a preservative).
- Brown Rice Syrup – sorry guys, I know lots of people use this as an alternative to sugar but it’s still sugar! It has a low glycemic index which means it enters the blood stream slower compared to white sugar.
- Corn Syrup – derived from corn which is usually genetically modified. One tablespoon of this contains 16gm of sugar. It’s almost 100% pure fructose.
- Date Sugar – probably the best sweetener to use (if you’re going to use any) as it is rated as the most nutrient dense out of all of the sugars based on this 2009 study.
- Fruit Juice Concentrate – made by removing water from fruit juice, leaving out the pulp. It’s mostly found in packaged juices in the supermarket and in flavoured yoghurts.
- Avena Sativa – sugar derived from oats
- Treacle -the remains of brown sugar production; it’s high in sucrose, fructose and glucose (all types of sugar).
What the heck is that?!
Dextran – a polysaccharide (sucrose) produced by a bacteria strain similar to glucose. It occurs naturally in fermented products like sauerkraut and kefir. It’s usually added to commercially baked products in place of starch.
- Diastatic Malt Powder – a grain which has been sprouted, dried and ground down into a powder. Often used in baked products because it promotes a nice golden crust and good rise in bread and cakes. The enzymes in the powder release sugar from the flour which help grow yeast.
- Ethyl Maltol – commonly used in e-cigarettes, perfumes and in processed foods to make them sweeter. There are warnings with this ingredient in cosmetics because it is dangerous if swallowed. I couldn’t find much information on it in regards to food safety. It isn’t approved in the EU but is in Australia and New Zealand…Hmmmm.
- Maltodextrin – derived from a treated grain starch (corn or rice). For example, corn starch is hydrolyzed, filtered and purified and you either get maltodextrin or corn syrup solids. It has 20% less sugar than corn syrup solids and technically isn’t a sugar but has a glycemic index of 130%; table sugar is only 65!
What’s the difference between glucose and fructose and why is fructose worse?
On a basic level, glucose can be used as energy by virtually every cell in the body. Fructose, however, can only be metabolized in the liver. What this means is fructose is either stored in the liver, contributing to fatty liver disease and insulin resistance, or is moved out of the liver, raising blood triglycerides.
Don’t get confused about fruit though. No one has ever gotten sick by only eating fruits and vegetables! Even though fruit contains fructose, it also contains essential nutrients and fibre. Fruit is also wonderfully detoxifying to the body and the antioxidants help protect cells in the body from damage. I’m talking about the whole package here; when you eat an apple, eat it in its most natural form. No apple juice, dried apple, apple sauce, apple concentrate. Just eat a whole apple! Why would mother nature create something harmful for us to eat? It’s only when fructose is isolated and processed, like in sodas, juices and packaged foods, that it is truly harmful to the body.
Got a question? What’s your favourite sugar-free go-to recipe? I’d love to hear your feedback and if this post was helpful. Please comment below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Need some help with going sugar-free? Or are you wanting some advice that could help to improve your overall health and well being? I’m available for nutrition consultations and am here to help; visit my services page for more info or book now.
Have a lovely week everyone!
Love Stace x