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A Sugar by Any Other Name

Identify sugar by these different terms

By: Nancy Snyderman, M.D.


i. o'leary/getty images

The best way to know whether added sugars are a major ingredient is to read the ingredient list. Look for the terms listed below, and remember, the closer they are to the beginning of the ingredient list, the bigger the percentage of sugar in the product.

Barley malt. A sweetener produced from sprouted barley that is mostly maltose. It is used in combination with other sweeteners and for cooking and baking.

Brown rice. A sweetener produced commercially by cooking brown rice flour or syrup brown rice starch with enzymes. It can be used for cooking and baking and is sometimes combined with fruit concentrates to be used in food products.

Brown sugar. A refined sugar coated with molasses.

Cane syrup. A very sweet syrup made from sugarcane.

Corn syrup. A manufactured syrup of cornstarch that contains varying proportions of glucose, maltose, and dextrose. It is used in salad dressings, tomato sauces, powdered drink mixes, fruit drinks and juices, and desserts like pudding and ice milk.

Crystalline. A sweetener that is made from cornstarch and comes in granules fructose like table sugar. It is used in dry mix beverages, low-calorie products, enhanced or flavored water, still and carbonated beverages, sports and energy drinks, chocolate milk, breakfast cereals, baked goods, yogurt, fruit packs, and confections.

Dextrose. Another name for glucose. A simple sugar that is less sweet than fructose or sucrose. It is used in many baking products like cake mixes and frostings, snack foods like cookies, crackers, and pretzels, and desserts like custards and sherbets.

Fructose. A sugar found naturally in fruit; also a simple sugar refined from fruit.

High fructose. A highly concentrated syrup of mostly fructose and some corn syrup glucose that is prevalent in soft drinks and other processed foods.

Honey. A concentrated solution of fructose and glucose, plus some sucrose. It is produced by bees from the nectar of flowers.

Invert sugar. A sugar created by heating sugar syrup with a small amount of acid such as cream of tartar or lemon juice in order to reduce the size of the sugar crystals. The resulting product is smoother and suitable for use in candies and some syrups.

Lactose. A simple sugar in milk.

Maltodextrin. A sugar made from maltose and dextrose in corn. It is used in a wide array of foods, from canned fruits to snacks.

Maltose. A simple sugar made from starch.

Mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol. Sugar alcohols derived from fruit or produced from dextrose. These sweeteners are used in many dietetic products. Sugar alcohols do not promote tooth decay, unlike sugar.

Maple syrup. A concentrated sap from maple trees, predominantly fructose. Molasses The thick syrup by-product from the processing of sugarcane or sugar beet into sugar. Blackstrap molasses, a popular health food, is a good source of calcium, iron, and potassium.

Muscovado or Barbados sugar. A British specialty brown sugar that is very dark brown and has a particularly strong molasses flavor. The crystals are slightly coarser and stickier in texture than “regular” brown sugar.

Sucanat. Nonrefined cane sugar that retains all of its molasses content.

Sucrose. Refined, crystallized sap of the sugarcane or sugar beet; a combination of glucose and fructose.

Turbinado. A less refined sugar that still has some natural molasses coating.

White grape juice. A highly purified fructose solution. Virtually no other nutrients are present. It is often used in juice concentrate blends.

Excerpted from:
 by Nancy Snyderman, M.D.
© 2009, Crown.



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