Sugar really is the new master of disguise
It’s no secret that added sugar is bad for your health. It’s been linked to illnesses, weight gain and a slew of other health-related issues (not to mention it can make your kids bounce-off-the-wall crazy). But cutting back on sugar may be more difficult than you think.
Did you know there’s over 56 different names for sugar?
Thanks to clever marketing, many of the foods we perceive to be healthy (with nutrition-driven statements like “contains whole-grains” or “naturally flavored”) are filled to the gills with a shocking amount of sugar.
Sugar falls into two categories in our diet; natural and added.
Sugar is the general term for those crazy carbs that give your food a sweet taste. However, it comes in different forms and is called different names.
Natural sugars can be in anything from natural milk sugars, to fruit, to less obvious foods, such as vegetables.
Added sugar is exactly that—manufactured sugar that’s been added to (often highly processed) food. We’re talking about dry sugar like white, turbinado and good old brown sugar, as well as syrups, like molasses. These seemingly “sweet” offenders basically have little-to-no nutritional benefit and, in excess, can be harmful.
Because sugar can be difficult to spot on labels, the first step is to figure out where it’s hiding.
The real eye-opener comes when you read the ingredient list on food labels and know all the different words manufacturers use. While you don’t need to memorize all 56+ names, it’s good to familiarize yourself with them and even keep this list saved on your phone for whenever you’re grocery shopping.
The list of 56+ sugars
To simplify things, the top seven offenders are listed in bold. You’ll notice a theme with these sneaky suckers—most of them contain dext or ose in the name of their ingredients, such as maltodextrin, maltose, dextrose, and sucrose.
- Agave nectar
- Barbados sugar
- Barley malt
- Barley malt syrup
- Beet sugar
- Brown sugar
- Buttered syrup
- Cane juice
- Cane juice crystals
- Cane sugar
- Caramel carob syrup
- Castor sugar
- Coconut palm sugar
- Coconut sugar
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Corn syrup solids
- Date sugar
- Dehydrated cane juice
- Demerara sugar
- Evaporated cane juice
- Free-flowing brown sugars
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Glucose solids
- Golden sugar
- Golden syrup
- Grape sugar
- HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup)
- Icing sugar
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Palm Sugar
- Powdered Sugar
- Raw Sugar
- Refiner’s Syrup
- Rice Syrup
- Sorghum Syrup
- Sucrose Sugar (Granulated)
- Sweet sorghum
- Trubinado sugar
- Yellow sugar
Sugar is often disguised in the foods you would least expect (even when they don't taste sweet).
Here are just a few “healthy” foods that sugar’s often hidden in:
- Salad dressings, sauces and marinades (like the picture below)
- Breakfast foods such as flavored yogurt, cereal and granola
- Breakfast bars and granola bars
- “No sugar added” foods
It’s hard to imagine why a manufacturer has to include nine different types of sugar in one jar of BBQ sauce. Buyer beware!
The easiest way to avoid added sugar is to eliminate processed foods from your diet (thanks, genius!). While that sounds fine and dandy, it’s not very realistic when you’re crazy busy and have a family to feed.
So next time you grab a granola bar or some store-bought bread, check the ingredients and keep an eye out for the sugary truth. Keep in mind that most of the top offenders contain dext or ose in the name of their ingredients, like maltodextrin and dextrose.
Let’s make life a little sweeter, without all the added sugar — together!
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