“Sugar, ah honey honey.” Did you know honey is just one of the many different names for sugar? There are actually more than 50 different names for sugar that may be found in the ingredient list of your foods. At the August support group, we looked at the different names for sugar and how to recognize an added sugar when reading a food label. (Click here to view the full list)
You may already be familiar with some of the names of sugars in food products. It’s pretty easy to spot the words “sugar” and “syrup” in a food’s ingredients label. It’s safe to say that anything with either of these words is a sugar. This includes well-known names such as corn syrup, maple syrup and brown sugar, and lesser-known ones such as beet sugar and invert sugar.
Some sugars are more tricky to find because their names sound like something you’d find in a chem lab. These include sugars like dextrose, dextran, ethyl maltol and mannose.
Some food manufacturers trick you into thinking a food is healthy by labeling it “all-natural.” But let’s face it, sugar is sugar, whether it’s created in a lab or collected from beehives. Don’t be fooled! Some of these sugars include carob syrup, molasses, cane sugar, and of course, honey! Sugars from fruit, such as date sugar and coconut sugar, fall into this category. One teaspoon of date sugar has 4 grams of total carbohydrates, about the same as a teaspoon of white sugar. Also, beware of juice as a sweetener: evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate and fruit juice are all sugars with no nutritional value.
Remember: Women should have no more than 26 grams of added sugar per day. That’s about 6 ½ teaspoons. Men should have no more than 38 grams of added sugar or about 8 ½ teaspoons, daily.
Adding to the problem in identifying sugar in your foods is that the current food label does not discern between naturally occurring sugars (found in fruit, milk, plain yogurt and vegetables) and added sugars. (We wrote about the old versus the new food labels here: New Nutrition Facts Are Here and They are an RD’s Dream) Until the new food label becomes more common, looking at the ingredient list is the best way to hunt for those added sugars. Keep in mind that ingredients are listed in order of quantity. This provides good clues to how much of a sugar is in a product.
In a previous blog post, we took a look at Raisin Bran Crunch to see see if it was a good choice. (Read the full post here: Healthy or Not? Raisin Bran Crunch Cereal)
Here are the ingredients:
Ingredients: Whole grain wheat, Sugar, Raisins, Rice, Wheat Bran, Whole Grain Oats, Brown Sugar Syrup, Glycerin, Corn Syrup, contains 2% or less of salt, malt flavor, modified corn starch, molasses, palm oil, cinnamon, honey, natural and artificial flavor, BHT for freshness.
Now that we know what other names to look for, we can see that there are 5 different sugars added in this product.
So bust out those detectives skills and keep your eyes open for those hidden added sweeteners.