Sugar is a master of disguise: just because you don’t see “sugar” on the ingredient list when scanning a nutrition label does not guarantee the item is sugar or sweetener-free. There are several “synonyms” for sugar that you should be aware of - at least 56 of them!
Sugar goes by a slew of different names, making it easy for manufacturers to hide how much sugar is truly in a given product. While some of these names are more obvious, like brown and cane sugar, others are trickier to spot (e.g., maltodextrin and dextrose).
Shockingly, over 68% of barcoded food products sold in the U.S. contain added sweeteners—even if they are labeled as “natural” or “healthy.”¹
Sugar is sneaky, and can appear where you least expect it. There are the more obvious items like cakes, sweets, sodas, and table sugar that you might add to your morning coffee. But it can also hide out in things like sauces, salad dressings, granola bars, and pre-made foods. Even fruit – while it’s considered “natural” – contains sugar.
Everyone’s tolerance for sugar is different, but for people with type 2 diabetes who are “carbohydrate intolerant,” consuming too much sugar can lead to issues like spiking blood sugar, weight gain, and more. Learn more about how sugar and carbohydrates impact your blood sugar readings here. If you have a lower tolerance to carbohydrates, it’s important to be aware of all of the different names or “synonyms” for sugar, so you can check labels and identify products where sugar might be hiding out, even when at first glance, the nutrition facts appear to show it’s low in carbs and added sugar.
The best way to ensure you’re not consuming excess added sugars is to get in the habit of always scanning the ingredient list below before you throw the item in your cart. Keep in mind that ingredients are listed by quantity from high to low: the closer to the front of the list a form of sugar is, the more the product contains.
Feeling overwhelmed? Use this list of sugar names below to help you avoid a head rush when you shop!
(Excluding artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes)
Basic Simple Sugars (monosaccharides and disaccharides):
Solid or Granulated Sugars:
Liquid or Syrup Sugars:
The short answer if you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes: as little as possible. But if you spot any of these names listed on a label, it’s not necessarily an automatic no-go. It’s the amount of sugar that counts. Again, everyone has a different tolerance for sugar and carbohydrates.
If the total carbohydrate count is 1–2 grams, it’s often still fine to have if you’re following a low carb lifestyle. For example, many keto-friendly salad dressings include a pinch of sugar with 1–2 grams total carbs—these are still suitable to consume.
Are you carbohydrate intolerant? Do you struggle with high blood sugar? Learn more about how Virta can reverse the root cause – insulin resistance.