51 sneaky ways to hide the sugar!

Written by Helen Byrne on Tuesday, 27 September, 2016

hidden sugars

In the past it was more straight forward. These days, it’s not just white sugar you have to worry about. It’s agave, rice malt syrup, coconut sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and organic cane sugar – all trendy alternative sugars that appear on the ingredient lists of these so called healthy muesli bars, snacks bars, breakfast bars that are popping up everywhere. There are more and more of them and they’re often used to disguise the total amount of sugar present and to make a food appear more healthy than it actually is. Here is a list of different names for these hidden sugars.  These sugars crop up too in many of the new trendy cook books that are out now. Be aware! Sugar is sugar.  Also refer back here to a previous related post on the subject.

Unmasking the sneaky sugars!

We use these alternative sugars in the hope that they may be an ‘healthier’ alternative to the white refined stuff. Manufacturers pick up on our sentiments and so use the alternates in their products in the hope we don’t realise they’re ALL forms of sugar. Get to know this list and you’ll be quickly able to spot the pretenders on the label.  Safe it to your phone so you can refer back to it when out food shopping and checking labels.

19 derived from cane sugar

  1. Blackstrap molasses
  2. Brown sugar
  3. Cane juice
  4. Cane sugar
  5. Cane sugar extract
  6. Caster sugar
  7. Coffee crystals
  8. Demerara sugar
  9. Golden syrup
  10. Icing sugar
  11. Invert sugar (preferred by bakers)
  12. Molasses
  13. Panela
  14. Rapadura
  15. Raw sugar
  16. Treacle
  17. Turbinado sugar
  18. White sugar
  19. Jaggery

6 derived from fruit

  1. Date sugar
  2. Fruit juice concentrate
  3. Fruit sugar
  4. Grape juice concentrate
  5. Grape sugar
  6. Pear juice concentrate

1 derived from beet

Beet sugar

5 derived from corn

  1. Corn sugar
  2. Gluco-malt
  3. Glucose syrup
  4. High fructose corn syrup – a sweetener used in the US
  5. Karo

13 alternative sweeteners* 

see note below

  1. Agave
  2. Barley malt syrup
  3. Birch syrup
  4. Brown rice syrup
  5. Coconut sugar
  6. Date sugar
  7. Honey
  8. Invert sugar
  9. Malt extract
  10. Maple syrup
  11. Palm sugar
  12. Rice malt syrup
  13. Maple Sugar

7 chemical names for sugars (ending in –ose)

  1. Glucose
  2. Dextrose (another name for glucose)
  3. Fructose (fruit sugar)
  4. Lactose (milk sugar)
  5. Maltose (malt sugar)
  6. Sucrose (white sugar or table sugar
  7. Galactose

Note: this list doesn’t include the sweeteners such as stevia, sucralose, aspartame, saccharin or cyclamate. Nor the sugar alcohols that pop up in sugar-free chewing gums such as sorbitol, mannitol or xylitol.

Watch when reading labels – sugars can be listed more than once.

Manufacturers often use three or four different types of sugars so that it splits the total quantity of sugar and means these individual sugars are able to be listed as separate ingredients and so appear further down the list.

Why do manufactures do this?

Up to 50 per cent of the weight of a biscuit could be sugar (sucrose) so sugar could very well be the largest ingredient and would have to come first on the list of ingredients with flour, butter, water, milk, spices etc., following. You would know, at a glance, that this is not healthy food.  However if 4  different sugars were used to get the same level of sweetness, sugar may appear further down the ingredient list perhaps 4th or 5th instead of in the top 3, with the other sugars with different names coming even further down the list. If you’re only looking for sugar or sucrose, then you may think that this food isn’t quite so bad for you.

Have a look at the ingredient list of a typical Granola bar

Here is a typical list of ingredients taken from a granola bar from one of our local supermarkets. The ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. Note the sugar (in Position No: 2), then maltodextrin(No: 5), honey (No: 8), maple syrup (No: 10) and mollasses (No: 11) – which are all forms of ‘sugar’.

Oat flakes (45%), sugar, sunflower oil, oatmeal, maltodextrin, water, wheatflour, honey, natural flavourings, maple syrup concentrate, Mollasses, emulsifier, Lecithins, Salt

My top tip: If sugar appears in the first three ingredients, the food is high in sugar. But if it doesn’t, don’t automatically assume it’s low; look for the other forms of sugar.Label reading hint

But are some of the alternatives to sugar not good for us?

Some of these alternative sweeteners have a little more B vitamins (like honey); some offer more minerals like potassium or magnesium or iron (like blackstrap molasses); some have a few phyto-chemicals (like cane juice extract). However, they have nowhere near what you’ll get from vegetables, fruits, herbs and whole grains; and nowhere near enough to make a huge difference to your overall intake.

All sugars are similar in terms of nutrition and calories so don’t regard any of them as superior to white sugar.  They are mixtures of glucose plus fructose  but with very little in the way of nutrition. Think of these as ‘enhancers’ of fruit, yoghurt, milk or whole grains rather than foods in their own right.  Adding a small amount of sweetness so you enjoy the porridge, the homemade cake and the natural yoghurt is absolutely fine.  Don’t sweat the very small detail but aim to eat healthy whole foods at least 80% of the time and hidden sugars will not be an issue to you or your family.

Free mini consultation just  for you

Nutrition Waterford

Free nutrition consultation

If you are concerned about your sugar intake and feel that you would benefit from some professional guidance and support in moving away from sugar and processed foods and onto a wholefood diet, give me a call on 086-8067832  or drop me a text so I can arrange a free mini consultation for you.  Tell me what  your main obstacles are that are getting in your way and I will gladly give you some advice there and then that you can put into practise straight away.

Text or ring: 086-8067832

E mail: helen@help2healthnutrition.ie

or simply click here for the link to contact me through the website.