How Sugar Hides It’s Identity in Your Food

How Sugar Hides It’s Identity in Your Food

When you hear the word “alias” it’s likely you think of criminals who commonly use a name other than their own to either avoid the law or because it just sounds more descriptive, threatening, or just plain catchy. For example, “Babyface” Nelson’s real name was Lester Gillis. “Machine Gun” Kelly’s real name was George Celino Barnes. Sometimes, a whole string of aliases is used for the same person. For example, Henry McCarty used the aliases William Bonney, Henry Antrim, William McCarty, Kid Antrim, and finally, the one that really stuck, Billy the Kid.


As with Billy the Kid, a good, colorful alias sometimes just sounds right. Would the movie, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” have been as successful if it were called, “Robert LeRoy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh”? Probably not, but that was the duo’s real names. 

It’s not just criminals that use aliases. In fact it’s hard to beat the number of aliases for something very common that you wouldn’t think would even need another name: sugar. A reasonable estimate is that on today’s ingredient labels, sugar has about 61 aliases

Why does sugar have so many names?

People are beginning to understand that sugar is addictive. When a food item’s ingredients are reviewed, many consumers avoid labels that show excess sugar, which is a problem for manufacturers who pack their products with the ubiquitous sweetener. The solution? Don’t call it sugar. Give sugar an alias. 

Below, we’ve listed many of sugar’s aliases, but only aliases that don’t include the word “sugar,”  Many ingredients use “sugar” in the name, prefaced with a healthy-sounding adjective, like these frequently used aliases: Barbados sugar, beet sugar, brown sugar, castor sugar, coconut palm sugar, coconut sugar, confectioner’s sugar, date sugar, demerara sugar, free-flowing brown sugars, grape sugar, icing sugar, invert sugar, muscovado sugar, palm sugar, panocha sugar, powdered sugar, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, and yellow sugar. 

Popular Aliases for Sugar-based Products

Here are the aliases that may not look like sugar, but really are:

  • Agave Nectar – Often touted as blood-sugar friendly, it contains large amounts of fructose, which can only be metabolized by the liver, and can is dangerous for metabolic health
  • Barley Malt and Barley Malt Syrup – The source of the sugars used to ferment beer, barley malt poses a problem for those with gluten intolerance
  • Buttered Syrup – This sweetener is made from exactly what you’d expect: butter, sugar, and evaporated milk. 
  • Cane Juice, Dehydrated Cane Juice, Evaporated Cane Juice and Cane Juice Crystals – The liquid from the sugar cane plant. When evaporated, cane juice is sugar. And cane juice crystals or dehydrated cane juice? Also sugar. 
  • Caramel – Heat sugar, heavy cream, butter and water to 338-degrees Fahrenheit, and you’ll get caramel. It’s mainly sugar. 
  • Carob Syrup – Contains 55-75 percent sucrose, or table sugar, 7-16 percent fructose, and 7-16 percent glucose. It’s sugar. 
  • Corn Sweetener, Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup Solids, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, and HFCS – The corn industry has been creatively using aliases for a long time, but this high-fructose sweetener may be even worse than sugar. 
  • Dextrin – A starch that is used commercially as an adhesive, as a thickening agent in foods, and also used in fireworks. Because dextrin contains glucose, it can also be used as a sweetener.
  • Dextrose – Its molecular structure is identical to glucose, so it’s sugar. 
  • Fructose – Table sugar (sucrose) is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose. The fructose in sugar can only be metabolized by the liver and may be what causes insulin resistance and fatty liver disease. 
  • Fruit Juice and Fruit Juice from Concentrate – These are often found in products labeled “No Added Sugar,” which is a technicality. The fruit juice and juice from concentrate are packed with naturally occurring sugar. Since sugar isn’t added to the juice, and while the food manufacturer may be adding juice, but not specifically adding sugar, it’s a loophole that food manufacturers love. But really, it’s sugar. 
  • Glucose and Glucose Solids – Glucose is the main fuel used by the body, and it has a glycemic index of 100, quickly raising blood sugar when ingested. It’s sugar. 
  • Golden Syrup or Light Treacle – Made from molasses, the stuff that’s left over after milling cane sugar, it’s a mixture of sucrose, glucose, and fructose, so it’s definitely sugar. 
  • Honey – It has a good reputation, coming from bees, but honey is broken down by the body in exactly the same way sugar is. While raw honey does contain some health benefits, one has to ingest 3-5 tablespoons per day, at which point the benefits are outweighed by the drawback of ingesting that much sugar. Plus, health benefits have disappeared through the processing of most commercial honey.
  • Maltodextrin – A processed starch which may contain gluten, and with a glycemic index that’s higher than table sugar. Foods using maltodextrin will cause a blood sugar spike and are dangerous for people with diabetes or insulin resistance. 
  • Maltol – Used as a sweetening agent primarily in adding sweetness to the taste of flavored e-cigarettes. In foods, it’s sometimes used as a sweetener and flavor enhancer. 
  • Maltose – Originating in China, it’s generally a syrup made from rice, water and malt. It’s chemically similar to sucrose and is frequently used in brewing beer. 
  • Mannose or D-Mannose – A simple sugar found in many fruits mannose may have the benefit of stimulating good bacteria in the digestive system. However, ingesting mannose or D-mannose in large amounts may make it hard to control blood sugar and may cause kidney damage. 
  • Maple Syrup – Made up of 99.9 percent sucrose, maple syrup is similar to a liquid form of table sugar, although it does contain some minerals which sugar does not. Because it’s a simple sugar, it will quickly raise blood sugar levels. 
  • Molasses or Treacle – There’s light, dark, blackstrap molasses. As a byproduct of the sugar-making process, it’s a syrup that remains after sugar has been extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets. While higher in minerals than table sugar, it’s just as high in sugar content. 
  • Refiner’s Syrup – Similar to molasses, but without any nutrients. Contains large quantities of glucose and fructose, along with all the health and blood sugar concerns of table sugar. 
  • Rice Syrup – The starch in rice is broken down into what is chemically pure glucose. With a glycemic index of 98 and, despite its rich, brown color, rice syrup is devoid of any nutritional elements. 
  • Sorghum Syrup and Sweet Sorghum – Containing some minerals, much as molasses does, it’s made from a gluten-free grass native to Africa, now grown in many southern and midwestern states. It has a slightly bitter taste, can be used as a molasses substitute, and has the same effect on blood sugar as table sugar would have. 
  • Sucrose, Sucralose, or Saccharose – The scientific name for table sugar, it’s a combination of 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose. Usually extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets. 
  • Treacle – See Molasses.

We have created an extensive list of the popular types of sugar to make people aware how sugar hides in their favorite foods. Without knowing it, you may be consuming more sugar than you should be, and that’s because sugar will work to hide itself from you.

Analyze the Ingredients of Your Food

The next time you’re looking at the ingredients of a packaged food item, see if you can find the multiple aliases of sugar lurking on the list. 

Of course, the best way to avoid all of the above sugars is to use plant-based, no-sugars SweetLeaf®. SweetLeaf products have a non-glycemic response and are gluten free with zero calories and no artificial sweeteners. Try SweetLeaf Stevia Sweetener or Organic SweetLeaf Stevia Sweetener in packets or shaker jar, Liquid Stevia Sweet Drops®, in 2-ounce or convenient 50ml bottles, or SweetLeaf Water Drops® water enhancer in six delicious fruit blends. 

Whether you use SweetLeaf in foods, beverages, or recipes, switching from sugars to SweetLeaf couldn’t be easier. Use our Stevia Conversion Chart or our interactive Stevia Conversion Calculator to know exactly how much SweetLeaf to use to replace sugar in all your favorite foods. 

For more on sugar’s many aliases, check out this entertaining and informative video:

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