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18 Sneaky Names for Sugar

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Do you know all the names for sugar? You may be surprised at some of the names for sugar and how they can negatively affect your health. Avoiding sugar is the easiest way to improve your health, but first, you have to know all the hidden names for this dangerous food additive. Find more about the alternative names for sugar below.

We all know that added sugars are bad for us. Too much sugar can contribute to a wide range of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. The easiest way to improve your health is to cut back on your sugar intake. However, food manufacturers are sneaky. Manufacturers want you to eat more sugar because it makes food taste better when made with low-quality ingredients, it is addicting, and sugar is inexpensive.

Sugar is an excellent tool to use to transform one-time customers into repeat customers. Because of this, manufacturers try to sneak it into all kinds of food, even foods like canned vegetables and saltine crackers.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the average American eats nearly 70 grams of added sugars daily, which is equal to between 16 and 20 teaspoons of sugar per day. That is an insane amount of sugar, considering that the body can only safely handle about six teaspoons of sugar per day. More sugar than that places an overload on the metabolism, the liver, and the blood. Blood sugar levels that are constantly high lead to insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes.

Most people don’t even realize they are eating this much sugar as sugar goes by nearly a hundred different names. Some manufacturers try to trick customers by including “natural” sugars, but any added sugar that is not originally part of the food (fruit for example), can be dangerous.

The Type of Sugar Does Matter

The two most common forms of sugar- glucose and fructose- have slightly different effects in the body. However, overloading on either kind of sugar is dangerous. Glucose is the type of sugar that the body uses for fuel. Glucose can be metabolized by almost every cell in the body. Fructose is usually metabolized in the liver.

Studies show that a diet high in fructose is dangerous, leading to problems such as high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. While searching for forms of sugar to avoid, any added sources of fructose should be first on the list. Stick to natural sources of fructose, like fruit.

The Hidden Names of Sugar

Sugar has many hidden names. The list below outlines some of the most common names for sugar and outlines some of the uses and risks of each sugar.


When it isn’t called sugar, sugar may be called sucrose. Sucrose is ordinary table sugar. Sucrose is typically extracted from sugar beets or sugarcane. It contains 40 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose.

Where it’s Used: Sucrose is one of the most common forms of sugar behind corn syrup. It is used to sweeten almost every kind of food, including ice cream, ketchup, soda, and canned fruit.

Potential Health Risks: The biggest danger of this sugar is how often it shows up in foods. Sucrose is slightly healthier than high-fructose sugars, but not by much. Avoid this added sugar as much as possible.

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is a form of sugar pulled from corn. It has several mixtures, including the common high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Each form of corn syrup contains varying ratios of glucose to fructose. The most common variety contains 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose. However, there is a corn syrup blend that contains 90 percent fructose.

Where It’s Used: Corn syrup is the baseline sweetener for most packaged foods, soda, candy, and almost all processed foods. Corn syrup is often added to non-sweet foods, like soup, sauces, and breads. In the United States, most foods that are not packaged as “high-end” or “natural” products will be sweetened with corn syrup.

Potential Health Risks: Corn syrup has a higher fructose content, which places a greater processing load on the liver. The liver is not designed to process massive quantities of sugar, which is what makes corn syrup slightly more damaging than regular sugar.

Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is a sweetener that often shows up in health foods. Since it comes from the agave plant, it was thought to be healthier than refined table sugar. However, agave nectar is high in fructose, making it a dangerous additive. Agave nectar contains about 80 percent fructose, making it a highly dangerous and unhealthy sugar additive.

Where It’s Used: You’ll find agave nectar in many health foods.

Potential Health Risks: The high fructose content makes it damaging to the liver.

Fact of the Day
While agave nectar is often used as a replacement for corn syrup, it is actually just as unhealthy, or even worse, than corn syrup.

Raw Sugar

Raw sugar is unrefined sugar, usually created from sugar cane. Raw sugar is still sugar, just slightly less processed. Raw sugar does not contain any less sugar than refined sugar, it just hasn’t been bleached.

Where It’s Used: Raw sugar is often used in health food products when the manufacturers want to appear healthier.

Potential Health Risks: Raw sugar has the same percentage of 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose as regular table sugar.


Barley malt is a grain-based sugar that is half as sweet as white sugar. However, it still spikes blood sugar just as much as traditional sugar.

Where It’s Used: Barley malt is used in cereals, candy bars, and in alcohol.

Potential Health Dangers: Although the glucose and fructose content is slightly lower, barley malt still has the potential to cause blood sugar spikes, making it dangerous to consume in large amounts.

Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap molasses is made from sugar beets or sugarcane just like most other sugars. However, some of the nutrients are left intact because molasses is not refined as much as table sugar. However, some types of molasses have sulfur added, which negates any health benefits. Unsulfured molasses has antioxidants, iron, calcium, and other nutrients, but the sulfured kind does not. If you can determine if the molasses is unsulfured, it is a healthier sweetener, otherwise, it has similar effects to other sugar types.

Where It’s Used: You’ll find blackstrap molasses in health foods, beans, gingerbread, and sold in the sweetener aisle.

Potential Health Risks: Antioxidants aside, molasses still has a high fructose and glucose content which is dangerous in large amounts.

Beet Sugar

Beet sugar is made from sugar beets, which are used in about 20 percent of all sugars.

Where It’s Used: Beet sugar is used to sweeten almost all sweet foods.

Potential Health Dangers: Beet sugar has the same health dangers as other sugars, and sugar beets are often genetically modified without notification.

Brown Rice Sugar

Brown rice sugar is often added to health foods and is present in milk, cereal, and other grain products.

Where It's Used: Brown rice sugar is often used as a replacement for corn syrup in "healthy" foods.

Potential Health Dangers: Rice contains arsenic, which is toxic. The more rice you add to your diet the more arsenic you are eating. Additionally, Rice sugar has the same health risks as table sugar.

Cane Juice Crystals or Evaporated Cane Syrup

Evaporated cane syrup and cane juice crystals are simply other names for cane sugar.

Where It’s Used: Yogurt, cookies, baked goods, cake, other healthy foods.

Potential Health Risks: Evaporated cane sugar is no more healthy than regular cane sugar. It just has a fancier name.

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is derived from coconut. Coconut is naturally sweet, which can be transformed into a sweetener. Coconut sugar is healthier than some forms of sugar because it has a high number of nutrients (like potassium) and has a lower glycemic index.

Where It’s Used: Diabetic foods and some healthy foods.

Potential Health Risks: Coconut sugar is one of the least dangerous sweeteners. If you are going to add sugar to a dessert, try coconut sugar. However, it still has a lot of calories and should be used in moderation.

Crystalline Fructose

Crystalline fructose is a form of crystallized fructose. It is a dangerous sweetener.

Where It’s Used: Fruit flavorings, baked goods, desserts, and other sweet foods.

Potential Health Risks: Fructose is harder on the body than glucose. Pure forms of fructose should be avoided to reduce risk on the liver and high levels of fat in the blood.

Demerara Sugar

Demerara sugar is a sugar that is slightly more nutrient-rich than regular table sugar. It has trace amounts of proteins and vitamins, but not enough to benefit your health.

Where It’s Used: Demerara sugar is found in coffee, tea, cakes, muffins, and other baked goods.

Potential Health Risks: Demerara sugar has the same risks as table sugar and can increase insulin resistance and cause blood sugar spikes.


Many of the unpronounceable food additives are actually forms of sugar. Dextran is one of them. Dextran is a byproduct of starch.

Where It’s Used: Dextran is found in hundreds of processed foods.

Potential Health Risks: Dextran is a form of sugar produced when the body breaks down starch. As a food additive, it is not healthy. Dextran usually contains wheat and corn.


Diastase is an enzyme that helps your body convert sugar into starch, maltose, and finally glucose. Diastase is a chemically-processed version of this natural process.

Where It’s Used: Milk, barley, plants, other processed foods.

Potential Health Risks: Diastase is known to cause significant blood sugar spikes.

Ethyl Maltol

Ethyl maltol is a form of sugar that is used as a flavoring in sweet foods, typically candies and cakes. The sugar is extremely sweet, which makes it ideal for use in sweet foods.

Where It’s Used: Cakes, candy, and breads.

Potential Health Risks: Ethyl maltol is extremely sweet and has a dangerous level of sugar, which can contribute to a wide range of health problems.


Galactose is a naturally-occurring sugar in some foods, like dairy, but it is also added to other processed foods.

Where It’s Used: Fast food, vegetable products, dairy, sweets.

Potential Health Risks: Galactose is known to cause blood sugar spikes that can cause blood pressure to rise significantly and quickly.


Maltodextrin is a common food additive and sweetener derived from corn. Maltodextrin is typically added to a wide range of sweet foods for an inexpensive way to make things taste sweeter.

Where It’s Used: Beer, soda, processed foods, candies, and baked goods.

Potential Health Risks: Aside from the basic dangers of sugar spikes, Maltodextrin contains no nutrients and is known to cause allergic reactions in individuals sensitive to corn and wheat.


Sorghum is a fiber-based sweetener that at least provides a few nutrients and health benefits along with the sweetness.

Where It’s Used: Cereal, baked goods, alcohol.

Potential Health Risks: Although it is higher in fiber than most sweeteners, sorghum still contains a lot of calories. One serving has 163 calories. Just like all sugar, sorghum should be consumed in moderation.

You Don’t Need Added Sugar

Sugar is a fuel that the body needs, but too much sugar and the wrong kind of sugar can be damaging to the body. The current number one health danger to Americans is sugar- as we eat far too much on a regular basis. The USDA recommends that adults eat no more than six teaspoons of sugar per day, which is less than what you find in a serving of soda. Reducing your sugar intake is the easiest and possibly most effective step you can take to prevent many of the common preventable health problems Americans see today, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.





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