Cut out hidden sugar

Weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, compromised immunity; we are all aware of the dangers of too much sugar. As well as empty calories which don’t provide any nutritional benefits, sugar actually robs the body of B vitamins. B vitamins are crucial to convert our food into fuel, allowing us to stay energised throughout the day. B vitamins also increase the rate of metabolism, enhance immune and nervous system function, maintain healthy skin and muscle tone, ease stress, reduce anxiety and depression  and  improve memory, PMS and migraines.

The average UK adult consumes approximately 22 teaspoons of sugar per year, the average teenager consumes around 34 teaspoons. Trying to limit the amount of sugar isn’t easy which is why it is important to be able to identify other names for sugar on food labels as well as some healthier alternatives.

One of the easiest ways to recognise sugar on a food label is by recognising the -ose suffix. Sugars ending in -ose: include: 

  1. Sucrose
  2. Maltose
  3. Dextrose 
  4. Fructose
  5. Glucose
  6. Galactose
  7. Lactose
  8. High fructose corn syrup
  9. Glucose solids

Other names for sugar include:

  1. Agave nectar
  2. Barley malt
  3. Beet sugar
  4. Black strap molasses
  5. Brown rice syrup
  6. Brown sugar
  7. Cane sugar / Cane Juice
  8. Caramel
  9. Carob syrup
  10. Coconut palm sugar
  11. Corn sweetener
  12. Corn syrup
  13. Corn-syrup solids
  14. Crystalline fructose
  15. Date sugar
  16. Dehydrated cane juice
  17. Dehydrated fruit juice
  18. Dextrin
  19. Dextrose
  20. Dried oat syrup
  21. Ethyl maltol
  22. Evaporated can juice crystals
  23. Evaporated cane juice
  24. Fruit Juice / Fruit juice concentrate / Fruit juice crystals
  25. Glucose
  26. Golden syrup
  27. Gum syrup
  28. High-fructose corn syrup
  29. Honey
  30. Inverted sugar
  31. Malt syrup
  32. Maltodextrin
  33. Maltose
  34. Maple syrup
  35. Muscavado
  36. Palm sugar
  37. Refiner’s syrup
  38. Simple syrup
  39. Sorghum syrup
  40. Sucanat
  41. Sucrose
  42. Treacle
  43. Turbinado
  44. Yellow sugar

As well as reducing refined sugars, cutting out synthetic sugar substitutes, many of which have been linked cancer (aspartame and acesulfame-K), is also wise. Here are some natural alternatives to try, but remember, the objective isn’t to simply switch from refined to natural sugars, although they’re an improvement over sugar, the aim should be to use these alternatives to reduce our consumption of refined sugars and eventually wean ourselves off the sweet stuff completely.

 Healthier Sugar Alternatives

  1. Stevia: A herb native to South American, stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar. It has been used as a sweetener for centuries in South America, and in Japan, makes up 41 per cent of the sweetener market.  Stevia has no calories and no glycaemic impact making it suitable for diabetics as well as weight watchers. 
  1. Coconut Palm Sugar: Sap from the coconut palm is heated to evaporate its water content and reduce it to usable granules. Coconut sugar is nutritious and has a low score on the glycaemic index, which means you don’t get a high followed by a low. It tastes similar to brown sugar but is slightly richer. Coconut sugar is a good alternative for traditional sugar.
  1. Raw Honey: Raw honey is used by many cultures as a remedy for many health ailments including ulcers, digestion problems, and even seasonal allergies. Studies have shown raw honey to have antibiotic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. Many people use honey topically on cuts and scrapes to help fight infection. Whilst there is nothing beneficial about processed honey, raw honey contains antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, carbohydrates, and phytonutrients.
  1. Molasses: Because of the way traditional sugar is produced (heating the top layer which forms the crystals you have in your bowl), many of the nutritional benefits are left in the molasses. Blackstrap molasses is probably the most beneficial as it is a good source of iron and calcium. It’s quite thick and viscous and is best used in baking. It is also sweeter than sugar and so you’ll need less.
  1. Artichoke Syrup: Artichoke syrup is rich in inulin, a type of fibre that feeds the friendly flora of the intestinal tract. It has an exceptional sweet taste and a very low glycaemic index, making it a great sweetener for people with candida-conscious diets and diabetic blood sugar awareness. Research indicates that the inulin found in artichoke syrup may improve gastrointestinal health and calcium absorption.
  1. Lucuma Powder:Lucuma has a uniquely sweet, fragrant and subtly maple-like taste that will bring your desserts to life without making your blood sugar levels skyrocket. Lucuma is an excellent source of carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins, and minerals.  It contains high concentrations of beta-carotene, which makes lucuma a powerful immune system booster, and it is rich in iron, B2 and B1. Its low sugar content makes it a healthy alternative to sugar for people who have diabetes and it is a great sweetener for women who are breastfeeding.

As with all sweeteners,  use in moderation.  Any sweetening agent that gets overused can overwhelm the liver and get turned in bad fat.  Syrups like maple syrup and agave syrup have some plus sides, but are controversial as although they rank relatively low on the glycaemic index, they have a higher fructose content than any other common sweetener, more even than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and new research suggests that excessive fructose consumption deranges liver function and promotes obesity.


Shani Shaker BA (hons), dipION, mBANT, CNHC, is a registered nutritional therapist with a focus on regenerative and functional nutrition, disordered eating, addiction and mental health. Based in London her services include one-to-one coaching, group classes and Skype sessions. Contact her at [email protected]Shani Shaker: Health, Beauty & Nutrition Therapist

Disclaimer: The information provided is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Supplementation should only be temporary. If you’re eating a nutrient-rich diet, extra supplementation should only last for a month or two, just long enough to resolve the deficiency.

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