This list of sugar facts and sugar names will help you uncover the many hidden sugars and poisons that are tucked away everywhere in our food today as well as show you how to not fall victim to false marketing claims when it comes to a healthy diet.
Food and beverage manufacturers in bed with the sugar industry consistently look for new sugar names to add to their long list to deceive consumers. Why do they go to such sneaky lengths to hide more and higher glycemic index sugar in commercial foods? Because sugar is addictive! And once they’ve got us hooked as sugar addicts, we constantly crave more and more to satisfy our cravings – even though we know it’s bad for us.
Some of the major sources of highly refined grains and hidden sugars that cause high glycemic blood sugar problems are: soft drinks, sauces, cereals, fruit juice, jams, jellies, canned fruit, prepared foods, ice cream, biscuits, candy, cakes, pies, pastries and most desserts.
Processed starches that behave like sugar in your body are white flour, white rice, pasta (unless flour is listed as 100% whole wheat), enriched flour, tapioca, cornstarch and processed breakfast cereals.
The most common names for sugar (aside from sugar) are: barley malt, corn syrup, dextrose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose and turbinado sugar.
Here is a more complete list of names that are simply forms of sugar that food companies use to deceive consumers
Agave nectar, Barley malt, Black strap molasses, Buttered syrup, Cane crystals, Caramel, Carob syrup, Corn syrup, Corn sweetener, Crystalline fructose, Dextrin, Dextran, Dextrose, Diastatic malt, Diatase, D-mannose, Evaporated cane juice, Ethyl maltol, Florida crystals, Fructose, Fruit juice concentrate, Galactose, Glucose, Glucose solids, Golden syrup, Grape juice concentrate, HFCS, High-fructose corn syrup, Honey, Lactose, Malt syrup, Maltodextrin, Maltose, Mannitol, Maple syrup, Molasses, Panocha, Powdered sugar, Refiner’s syrup, Rice syrup, Sorbitol, Sorghum syrup, Sucrose, Treacle.
The sugar, food and beverage companies are constantly coming up with new sugar names so be on guard for new hidden sugars with insulin spiking ingredients.
Just to simplify things, a food product can contain a virtually unlimited amount of sugar and still be labelled ‘fat free’ as the product may well be low in saturated fats and this is what the label is indicating. This is also where clever marketing comes into play.
Once a high sugar food is consumed however, the body goes to work converting the sugar into glucose which is a form of carbohydrate and like all carbohydrates; it is stored until you need to draw energy from it. More specifically, it is stored in the body as fat.
Any of the low carb diet that became so popular years ago followed a very simple principle but somehow the meaning became confused and people started to believe that all carbs are bad. Nothing is further from the truth. Put quite simply, all the low carb ways of eating simply eliminate sugar and refined white carbs from their diets.
The example below of a food label taken from one of the highest selling breakfast cereals in Australia demonstrates how food manufactures set out to deceive consumers.
INGREDIENTS: Cereals (44%)(wheat flour, oatmeal, maize flour), sugar, wheat gluten, Molasses, salt, barley malt extract, minerals (calcium carbonate, iron), mineral salt (sodium bicarbonate), natural colour (paprika, turmeric), vitamins (vitamin C, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate).
The ingredients in bold and underlined are all forms of sugar.
There are 3 different types of sugars added in the ingredients but in different quantities and listed under different names. This gives the food companies the ability to list them in the hope of fooling the consumer into believing that there is less sugar than they would otherwise realise.
When you read a list of ingredients, they are listed in order from the most to least. So in the above example sugar is the second most added ingredient followed by another form (molasses) being the fourth most added ingredient and again followed by another form of sugar (barley malt) being the sixth most added. There are 17 ingredients in all and three of the top six are all forms of sugar.
If you were to read the serving sizes and nutritional information on the side of this cereal box you would see that this product (along with many others) is in fact 1/3rd sugar.
Not so sweet facts!
Over the last 20 years, the average yearly sugar consumption per person in the western diet has increased from 12 kilos to 61 kilos.
Just before the start of the 20th century, the average consumption was only 1 kilo per person per year. To put this into perspective, a typical bag of sugar sold in the supermarket is 1 kilo. 100 years ago that one bag would have lasted a person a whole year. Today, that 1 kilo bag only lasts for about a week.
I know what you are thinking!
That 1 kilo bag you purchased at the supermarket over a month ago is still sitting on your pantry shelve. There is no way that you’re consuming all that sweet addictive stuff! Right? Wrong! What you’re forgetting to count are all the highly refined sugars in the foods you eat and drink. You don’t see them because the food companies give them aliases like barley malt, corn syrup, dextrose, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, maple syrup, molasses and the list goes on and on.
I challenge you to open up your refrigerator and pantry and look at the nutritional facts posted on each food product. The amount of sugar of each product contains will be listed under ‘total carbohydrates’. Your average soft drink alone will have somewhere between 35 to 40 grams of sugar per 375 ml.
One teaspoon of sugar is equal to 4 grams. So to determine how many teaspoons of sugar you are consuming all you have to do is divide the total grams by 4. If your soft drink has 40 grams it is equal to 10 teaspoons of sugar! Possibly you would put one, two or maybe even three teaspoons of sugar in your coffee, but surely not 10. Yet this is exactly what you’re doing each and every day with a single serve of some of the foods you eat and drink. You may not directly be eating that 1 kilo bag in your pantry but you are consuming an equivalent amount of it through all the different foods in a typical diet.
The next example is taken from one of the biggest selling yoghurt’s not only in Australia but worldwide.
The product is marketed as 99% fat free so you could be forgiven for thinking it is a very smart and healthy choice. This is exactly the response food companies want from consumers. But if you take the time to read the nutrition label you will see it reads that per 100 gram serve it actually contains around 25 grams of sugar. What does this mean? It means that one quarter of this so called fat free product is sugar. Break this down and this equates to this particular 1 kilo tub containing 250 grams of sugar (one quarter) or over 62 teaspoons. How do they get away with this? Read on.
Deceiving consumers: Tricks of the trade
If the nutrition facts section on food packaging lists all the substances that go into a food product, how can they deceive consumers? Here are a few common ways.
As you have already learned, one of the most common tricks is to distribute sugars among many different names so that the sugars don’t appear in the top three ingredients. For example a very common combination of ingredients may include a combination of sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, brown sugar and dextrose. These combinations are used to ensure none of these sugars are present in large enough quantities to attain a top position on the ingredients list. (Remember, the ingredients are listed in order of their proportion in the food, with the most common ingredient listed first).
This fools consumers into thinking the food product isn’t really made mostly of sugar, while in reality, the majority of ingredients could be all different forms of sugar. It’s a way to artificially shift sugar farther down the ingredients list and thereby misinform consumers about the sugar content of the whole product.
Another trick to fool consumers into thinking that the product is healthy is to add a miniscule amount of great sounding ingredients and using that as a major marketing point while distracting from the overwhelming bad products it may well contain. You often see this in personal care products and shampoo’s as well as foods. In shampoo’s you frequently find where the companies claim to offer ‘herbal’ benefits that have virtually zero detectable levels of real herbs in them. In foods, companies pad the ingredients lists with healthy sounding berries, herbs or super foods that are often only present in miniscule amounts. Having a super food like spirulina appear at the end of the ingredients list is practically meaningless. There’s not enough spirulina in the food to have any real positive effect on your health. This trick is called ‘label padding’ and it’s commonly used by junk food manufacturers who want to jump on the health food bandwagon to try and increase their sales without actually producing healthy foods.
Hiding dangerous ingredients
A third trick is hiding dangerous ingredients behind innocent sounding names that fool consumers into thinking they’re safe. The highly carcinogenic ingredient sodium nitrite for example, sounds fairly innocent, but is well documented to cause brain tumours, pancreatic, colon and many other cancers.
Carmine (found in many strawberry flavoured yoghurts) sounds like an innocent enough food colouring, but it’s actually made from the smashed bodies of living red cochineal beetles. Obviously nobody would eat strawberry yoghurt if the ingredients listed ‘dead insect food colouring’ on the label, so instead they just call it ‘carmine’.
Similarly, yeast extract sounds like a perfectly safe food ingredient, but it’s actually a trick used to hide mono-sodium glutamate (MSG, a chemical taste enhancer used to excite the flavours of overly processed foods) without having to list MSG on the label. Lots of ingredients contain hidden MSG. Virtually all hydrolyzed or autolyzed ingredients contain some amount of hidden MSG.
Don’t be fooled by the name of the product
Did you know that the name of the food product has nothing to do with what is actually in it? Brand name food companies make products like guacamole dip that contains absolutely no avocado! Instead, they’re made with hydrogenated soybean oil and artificial green colouring chemicals. But gullible consumers keep buying these products thinking they are getting avocado dip when, in reality, they’re buying green coloured, yummy tasting dietary poison.
Food names can include words that describe ingredients not found in the food at all. A ‘cheese’ cracker for example, doesn’t have to contain any cheese. A ‘creamy’ something doesn’t have to contain cream. A ‘fruit’ product need not contain even a single molecule of fruit. Don’t be fooled by product names printed on the packaging. These names are designed to sell products, not to accurately describe the ingredients contained in the package.
Ingredients lists don’t include contaminants
There is no requirement for food ingredients lists to include the names of chemical contaminants, heavy metals, PCB’s or any other toxic substances found in the food. As a result, ingredients lists don’t really list what’s actually in the food, they only list what the manufacturer wants you to believe is in the food.
This is done deliberately (of course). Requirements for listing food ingredients were created by a joint effort between the government and private industry (food corporations). In the beginning, food corporations didn’t want to be required to list any ingredients at all. They claimed the ingredients were ‘proprietary knowledge’ and that listing them would destroy their business by disclosing their secret manufacturing recipes. It’s all nonsense of course, since food companies primarily want to keep consumers ignorant of what’s really in their products. That’s why there is still no requirement to list various chemical contaminants, pesticides, heavy metals and other substances that have a direct and substantial impact on the health of consumers. (For years, food companies fought hard against the listing of trans fatty acids too, and it was only after a massive public health outcry by consumer health groups that the FDA finally forced food companies to include trans fats on the label.) But the food companies again have managed to find a way to hide the truth about these life threatening fats by manipulating serving sizes.
Manipulating serving sizes
Food companies have figured out how to manipulate the serving size of foods in order to make it appear that their products are devoid of harmful ingredients like trans fatty acids. The FDA were kind enough to provide them with a fairly large loophole by stating that and food containing 0.5 grams or less of fatty acids per serve is allowed to claim ZERO trans fat on the label. That’s FDA logic (or lack of for you), where 0.5 grams = 0. But fuzzy math isn’t the only game played by the FDA to protect the commercial interests of the industry it claims to regulate.
By exploiting this 0.5 gram loophole, companies arbitrarily reduce the serving size of their foods to ridiculous levels – just enough to bring the trans fats down to 0.5 grams per serving. Then they loudly proclaim on the front of the box, ‘ZERO trans fats!’ In reality, the product may be loaded with trans fats (found in hydrogenated oils), but the serving size has been reduced to a weight that might only be appropriate to feed a mouse, not a human being.
The next time you pick up a supermarket product, check out the ‘number of servings’ line in the nutrition facts section. You’ll likely find some ridiculously high number there that has nothing to do with reality. A cracker manufacturer for example might claim that one cracker is an entire serving. But who do you know that would eat just a single cracker every time they felt like one? If one cracker contains 0.5 grams of trans fatty acids, the manufacturer can claim the entire package is ‘trans fat free!’ In reality however, the package might contain 30 crackers, each containing 0.5 grams of trans fat, which comes out to 15 grams in the total package. Do not believe what you read, especially when it comes to tiny portion sizes as the companies are hiding something.
That is how you get a product containing 15 grams of trans fats (which is a huge dose of dietary poison) to be able to ‘legally’ claim in contains zero grams. Again this is just another example of how food companies use nutritional facts and ingredients lists to deceive, not inform, consumers.
Here are some tips for successfully decoding ingredients list labels:
- Remember that ingredients are listed in order of their proportion in the product. This means the first 3 ingredients matter far more than anything else. (Just make sure you look for hidden sugar names). It’s the top 3 ingredients that you will be primarily eating.
- If the ingredients list contains long, chemical sounding words that you can’t pronounce, avoid that item. It likely contains various toxic chemicals.
- Don’t be fooled by fancy sounding herbs or other ingredients that appear very far down the list. Some food manufacturers that may include a super food towards the end of the list is most likely only using it as a marketing gimmick. The actual amounts of these products are likely to be miniscule.
- Remember that ingredients don’t have to list chemical contaminants. Foods can be contaminated with pesticides, solvents, heavy metals and a variety of chemicals without needing to list them at all. The best way to minimize your ingestion of toxic chemicals is to buy organic, or go with fresh, minimally processed foods.
- Look for words like ‘sprouted’ or ‘raw’ to indicate higher quality natural foods. Sprouted grains and seeds are far healthier than non sprouted. Raw ingredients are generally healthier than processed or cooked. Whole grains are healthier than ‘enriched’ grains.
- Don’t be fooled by the word ‘wheat’ when it comes to flour. All flour derived from wheat can be called ‘wheat flour’ even if it is processed, bleached and stripped of it’s nutrition. Only ‘whole grain wheat flour’ is a healthy form of wheat flour. (Many consumers mistakenly believe that ‘wheat flour’ products are whole grain products. In fact this is not true. Food manufacturers fool consumers with this trick).
- Don’t be fooled into thinking that brown products are healthier than white products. Brown sugar is a gimmick. It’s just white sugar with brown colouring and flavours added. Brown eggs are no different to white eggs (except for the fact that their shells are brown). Brown bread may be no healthier than white bread either, unless it’s made with whole grains. Don’t be tricked by ‘brown foods’. These are just gimmicks used by food giants to fool consumers into paying more for manufactured food products.
- Watch out for deceptively small serving sizes. Food manufacturers use this trick to reduce the number of calories, grams of sugar or grams of fat believed to be in the food by the consumer. Many serving sizes are arbitrary and have no basis in reality.
So what can you do about all of this? Simply eat as much fresh produce as possible and avoid all packaged products wherever possible. By preparing your own meals rather than eating from a box or packet, you can be sure of exactly what it is you are consuming. The next best option is not to take anything the package says on face value and always read the food labels to get an accurate description (as accurate as the companies would have you believe anyway) of what ingredients it contains.