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Sugar By Any Other Name

Posted: March 6, 2014
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Sugar has many names and many faces.  We know it occurs naturally in fruits and certain vegetables.  We expect it in candies, desserts and sweet treats, but where else is sugar lurking?  It’s pretty sneaky that sugar, and hides in so many common, yet unassuming products.  Start reading those ingredient labels and you might be surprised just how much sugar you actually consume.  Even if you’re pretty diligent about reading labels, you may not have realized that a particular ingredient is just code for “sugar” – sugar literally has hundreds of aliases.  Some are quite obvious because they contain the word “sugar”:

  • Cane sugar
  • Invert sugar
  • Palm sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Brown sugar, and
  • Beet sugar

Then there are all those –ose sugars:

  • Lactose (naturally occurring in dairy)
  • Fructose (fruit sugar)
  • Dextrose
  • Glucose
  • Xylose
  • Maltose, and
  • Sucrose (table sugar)

There are also sugar alcohols (not the alcohol you might be thinking).  These are the sugars that end in –itol.  They are often found in low carb/low fat foods.  The carbs and fat are taken out, and extra sugar is put in to cover up the now cardboard taste.

  • Xylitol
  • Mannitol
  • Sorbitol
  • Lactitol, and
  • Maltitol

You also need to be on the prowl for the sugars masquerading as syrups:

  • Maple syrup
  • Malt syrup
  • Rice syrup, and
  • Corn syrup

Let’s not forget these sugars:

  • Honey
  • Agave
  • Molasses, and
  • Maple

You may be surprised where you will find that sweet and sneaky sugar that we hate to love.  Be cautious of foods that are fat free, carb free, or sugar free.  They may be “free” of one thing, but usually something else is added in its place.  More often than not, that something is a form of sugar, especially those sugar alcohols.  Here are some other culprits of hidden sugar:

  • Granola
  • Fruit bars, nut bars
  • Dried fruit
  • Processed food…if it’s in a box or a package it’s most likely processed!
  • Fast food
  • Condiments like salad dressings, ketchup, and barbeque sauce
  • Spice mixes and seasonings
  • Flavored yogurt (a 6 oz cup has about 25 grams of sugar)
  • Cereal and packaged oatmeal (even those “healthy” cereals that are high fiber or whole grain are often packed with sugar)
  • Canned soups, vegetables, and especially some canned tomato products
  • Bread, including English muffins, bagels, and sandwich thins

The convenience of prepackaged “foods” like these is sometimes hard to resist, but just by eliminating (or at least minimizing) them, you can significantly cut your sugar intake.  Even the ones that aren’t laden with sugar generally have other additives, preservatives, or ingredients we can’t even pronounce!  It’s time to get back to eating real food!  As often as possible, choose to cook at home.  It doesn’t have to be a big production, or even the day of.  Prepare salad mixes, wash and chop veggies, and cook meats in advance, maybe on a Sunday afternoon, so you have healthful, nutritious food at the ready for those busy weekday nights – your own “prepackaged” food!  Make use of a slow-cooker for soups and stews, roasts, pulled pork, and most anything else.  Make extra so you have enough for lunch the next day, or can even repurpose the leftovers into a whole new meal.  A few extra minutes now can have tremendous long-term benefits for your overall health and well-being!

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