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Sugar? What Sugar?

It seems that three elements of our diet have become the target of people focused on healthy eating: salt, sugar and white wheat flour. Some have called them the three white curses of the Western diet. Others have been less polite. Whether there is enough science to justify attributing a long list of health and disease problems to these three items in our diet, is still a question that needs to be answered. Meanwhile, many consumers are trying to cut down on salt, sugar and white wheat flour - just to be safe.


So where to start? That seems easy enough when it comes to foods that have labels. In most jurisdictions food manufacturers have to list ingredients. Usually this list has to be in decreasing order of the amount of each ingredient. All you have to do is read the label. Sounds easy. And it is, except it turns out there are many different ways of saying sugar, without saying sugar.

A quick search comes up with a long list words / phrases that are used on food labels to describe the various forms and sources of sugar. Whether food manufacturers are intentionally avoiding the use of the word sugar or not can't be proven. But for anyone who is trying to avoid foods high in sugar, it may require a bit of detective work to find out how your favourite snack food gets its sweet taste.

Words Used on Labels to Refer to Sources of Sugar and Sweeteners in a Variety of Foods
Agave NectarDemerara sugarMaple syrup
Barley malt syrupDiastatic maltMolasses
Beet sugarDiataseMuscovado sugar
Brown sugarEthyl maltol Panocha
Buttered syrupEvaporated cane juiceRaw sugar
Cane juice crystalsFructoseRefiner’s syrup
Cane sugarFruit juiceRice syrup
CaramelFruit juice concentrate Saccharose
Carob syrupGalactoseSorbitol
Castor sugarGlucose, glucose solidsSorghum syrup
Confectioner’s sugarGolden sugarSucrose
Corn sweetenerGolden syrupSugar, raw sugar
Corn syrup, or corn syrup solidsGrape sugarTreacle
Crystalline fructoseHigh-fructose corn syrup Turbinado sugar
Date sugarHoneyXylose
Dehydrated Cane JuiceIcing sugarYellow sugar
DextrinInvert sugarLactose
DextranMalt syrup

Suggested Reference

Food labelling changes
Government pf Canada

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