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Food manufacturers are getting clever. In a bid to assuage public concerns about sugar intake, companies are eliminating sugar from their products’ ingredients lists, using organic constituents, and falsely marketing these processed, packaged foods as “healthy.” But just because a food doesn’t contain white, refined cane sugar, doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain sugar. And just because it’s organic, it doesn’t make it healthy!

Here are some of the many disguises sugar wears:

Barley malt
Beet juice/sugar/syrup
Cane juice/sugar/syrup
Coconut sugar
Corn syrup
Castor sugar
Date paste/sugar/syrup
Diastatic malt
Ethyl maltol
Fruit juice (concentrate)
High-fructose corn syrup
Invert sugar
Malt syrup
Maple syrup
Monk fruit concentrate/juice
Palm sugar/syrup
Raw sugar
Refiner’s syrup
Rice (bran) syrup
Sorghum syrup

In case you aren’t up to the task of memorizing a long list of names, here are some general guidelines to help you identify most sugars and sugar substitutes used in processed foods:

1. If it contains the words cane, syrup, juice or malt, it’s sugar.
2. If it ends in the suffix —ose, it’s sugar.
3. If it ends in the suffix —itol, it’s a sugar alcohol.
4. If it’s a fruit-derived additive (including purée, concentrate or juice), it’s sugar.

To compound the problem, product ingredients must be listed in order of predominance, from greatest to least volume. Manufacturers cleverly use multiple permutations of sugar in a single product so that the amount of each type of sugar is smaller, and can thus be represented farther down the ingredients list, giving the impression that the product contains less sugar than it actually does.

Of course, the simplest way to avoid these sugars altogether is to eat only real food: food that doesn’t come in a package and doesn’t have a list of ingredients. But when you do eat packaged foods, don’t allow deceptive marketing practices to lead you to believe that “organic expeller-pressed cane juice” is anything but lipstick on a pig. After all, sugar by any other name… is still sugar.

What other names do you know for sugar? 

15 responses to “SUGAR BY ANY OTHER NAME…

  1. “Of course, the simplest way to avoid these sugars altogether is to eat only real food: food that doesn’t come in a package and doesn’t have a list of ingredients.”

    Hear hear! I love real food, although I must admit I do put a bit of sugar in my coffee…but at least I get to decide how much…as opposed to some food scientist at a multinational conglomerate,

    I’ve really had to become more aware of what goes in my mouth since we started feeding the babe solids. He wants whatever I’m having and is not content to munch on cucumber if mommy is having something else…and the list of things I don’t want to feed him is way larger than the things I’ve not wanted to feed myself (you, tho hypocrite mother!). Since I don’t want to do “secret” eating I’ve ended up with better nutritional choices these last few weeks.

    • And when you put sugar in your coffee, you are not under any delusions that you’re having something healthy. You just accept that it’s a vice and that it’s not optimal, and you move on.

      We are in the same boat with regard to really having to watch what we eat (in front of the baby). Oliver notices everything, and he’s starting to become far to interested and aware for us to continue being hypocrites. After our vacation next week, we are totally cutting out any and all crap!

  2. My guess is that Stevia is not sugar and its effects on insulin levels are actually pretty good. Mark Sisson explained this point a while ago.

    • It is not sugar per se, but I think it belongs on the list because it is still a sweetener, and still has the same “emotional” effects as sugar. For someone who is addicted to sweet stuff, stevia would definitely be detrimental to their efforts to curb the addiction.

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  4. Do you have any advice for someone who is going to start eating Paleo and has a sweet tooth?

    My husband and I always want a treat about 2 hours after dinner. Sometimes it’s on the healthier side (Fruit with honey or a protein bar) but sometimes that chocolate bar or gummy candies creep in. We don’t have a lot but it seems like it’s hard to shake.

    We have also kinda starting to incorporate Paleo meals to lessen the blow when we go 100% Paleo. I almost forgot how delicious real food actually is! haha

    PS I was excited to hear you are in Vancouver because I live in Victoria. 🙂

    • My advice (from someone who has a terrible sweet tooth herself!) would be to cut the treats out entirely, for at least a month. And when you begin to introduce Paleo treats, make sure to establish restrictions in advance. It can be very easy to “Paleo-ify” junk food and fall back down the slippery slope. I remember a year ago, J and I really got into dark chocolate and we’d have a few squares each after dinner. Well suddenly we realized that a few squares each had turned into splitting a whole bar, and then each having our own bars. So yes… break the emotional and physical addiction first, and then if you must, introduce treats slowly and cautiously. Here is a good blog post from Whole 9 Life:

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