Sugar by any other name is still as sweet: How to be a label detective

Taking a break from all added sugar is one way to get a grip on how much of the sweet stuff you’re actually eating.

That’s why the Star Tribune is hosting the 28-Day Sugar-Free Challenge this month. It’s not too late to join in.

In order to successfully avoid added sugars, you will need to learn how to be a label detective at the supermarket. Experts suggest focusing on the list of ingredients, not the nutritional breakdown.

“Stop looking at the nutrition labels, because they just confuse you. If sugar is one of the top five ingredients, avoid it. You can find an alternative,” said nutritionist Brooke Alpert, who wrote “The Sugar Detox.”

“It’s amazing, if you go to the supermarket, there’s 104 different kinds of tomato sauces. Find the one with no sugar added,” she said.

Even if you’re just looking at the listed ingredients, hunting for added sugar on food labels can be tricky. Often times, the word “sugar” isn’t listed. But added sugar by another name is still added sugar — whether you call it “agave nectar,” “dehydrated cane juice” or “treacle.”

Here’s a list of the many ways added sugars can be found on food labels, courtesy of the University of California scientists who run the site Sugarscience.org:

Agave nectar, Barbados sugar, barley malt, barley malt syrup, beet sugar, brown sugar, buttered syrup, cane juice, cane juice crystals, cane sugar, caramel, carob syrup, castor sugar, coconut palm sugar, coconut sugar, confectioner’s sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, date sugar, dehydrated cane juice, demerara sugar, dextrin, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, free-flowing brown sugars, fructose, fruit juice, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, glucose solids, golden sugar, golden syrup, grape sugar, HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup), honey, icing sugar, invert sugar, malt syrup, maltodextrin, maltol, maltose, mannose, maple syrup, molasses, muscovado, palm sugar, panocha, powdered sugar, raw sugar, refiner’s syrup, rice syrup, saccharose, sorghum syrup, sucrose, sugar (granulated), sweet sorghum syrup, treacle, turbinado sugar, yellow sugar.

Join us for the 28-Day Sugar-Free Challenge. The goal is to avoid added sugar in February, take stock of how much you’re consuming and make healthful changes. The Star Tribune is hosting a Facebook group to offer support, tips, facts and fun daily challenges: https://bit.ly/sugarfreestrib

 

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