A Sugar by Any Other Name…

Oh, sweet mercy!

Buying a blueberry pie because it sported a “NO SUGAR ADDED” sticker left me with a bad taste in my mouth when I read the ingredients label after I had finished a hefty slice and discovered high fructose corn syrup was the third largest ingredient after blueberries and water.


sugar free pie

Folks, HFCS is another name for added sugar.


I did a little internet surfing and discovered there are dozens of different names food manufacturers use in place of – or in addition to – good, old sugar.

“Added sugar may be the single unhealthiest ingredient in the modern diet,” proclaims a feature I found on Healthline.com.  By some accounts, Americans eat about 15 teaspoons of the sweet stuff each day.


The Healthline writer urges those of us looking to consume less sugar to: “… read the ingredient list first. Ingredients are listed in descending order — start with the ingredient that takes up the most volume or weight. If sugar is near the top of the list, the food is high in added sugars. And there are dozens of ways to say sugar!  Sucrose, maltose, dextrose, fructose, glucose … any ‘ose’ means sugar.  Cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, even organic sugar is just sugar, after all.”


The problem with all this sugar is that it has been linked to several major illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes.


My dear friend Susan Burke March, a registered and licensed dietitian, and a certified diabetes educator who specializes in smart solutions for weight loss and diabetes-related weight management, has long warned about added sugars in our food.


“All caloric sweeteners contain about 20 calories per teaspoon, or about 4 calories per gram,” Susan notes. “Some sugars labeled ‘natural’ contain minute amounts of minerals and vitamins, including honey, maple syrup, and especially molasses. But in the amounts recommended, they can’t be considered adjuncts to health.


“The epidemic of obesity continues unabated … it’s not just added sugar per se that is the worry. It’s the number of hidden sugars in foods, some hidden in plain sight. For example, children’s breakfast cereals can contain as much as 30 percent of their calories from added sugars. Yogurts, perceived to be a healthy food, may be sweetened with a huge amount of sugar. For example, an 8-oz cup of fruit-flavored, nonfat yogurt contains 46.5 grams of added sugar. That is 11.6 teaspoons of sugar. Imagine buying a cup of plain, unsweetened yogurt, opening it up, and spooning 11.6 teaspoons of sugar into it. Or giving it to your kid like that.”


Susan says we’re always looking to blame something for our being overweight or obese BUT sugar may be more of a distraction than a villain.

“Yes, too much sugar can contribute to obesity, but the excessive sugars compounded by too much fat and fried foods/junk foods, too few fruits and vegetables, and too little activity that creates this recipe for disaster,” she says.

“So, break away from that sugar habit, and discover the taste of food. Real sugar isn’t out of my diet absolutely, just not regularly. Desserts are a treat, not daily, and I’m not going to eat it if it’s not worth it.”


You can always find great news, advice and even recipes from Susan at Cuenca High Life. Check it out.


Meanwhile, here are some ingredients to look out for if you are looking to cut down your sugar intake:

  • Agave nectar
  • Barley malt
  • Barley malt syrup
  • Buttered syrup
  • Cane juice
  • Cane juice crystals
  • Caramel
  • Carob syrup
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Dehydrated cane juice
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • Glucose solids
  • Golden syrup
  • HFCS (High-Fructose Corn Syrup)
  • Honey
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltol
  • Maltose
  • Mannose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado
  • Panocha
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Rice syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum Syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Sweet Sorghum
  • Syrup
  • Treacle


The Mayo Clinic has a not-so-final word on the HFCS used to sweeten my NO SUGAR ADDED blueberry pie:


“High-fructose corn syrup is chemically similar to table sugar. Controversy exists, however, about whether the body handles high-fructose corn syrup differently than table sugar.


“At this time, there’s insufficient evidence to say that high-fructose corn syrup is any less healthy than other types of sweeteners.


“It is known, however, that too much added sugar of all kinds — not just high-fructose corn syrup — can contribute unwanted calories that are linked to health problems, such as weight gain, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high triglyceride levels. All of these boost your risk of heart disease.


“The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend cutting back on added sugar, limiting it to no more than 10 percent of total daily calories. The American Heart Association recommends that most women get no more than 100 calories a day of added sugar from any source, and that most men get no more than 150 calories a day of added sugar. That’s about 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 teaspoons for men.”



John McGran has been writing about health and weight loss for several national companies since 2000. He brings his knowledge of diets — and his passion for dropping pounds — to Meal Plan Map because he believes it is the future of smart, stress-free eating and improved health.


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