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Sugar Alternative Names

Watch out for anything with “syrup” in the nameIngredients ending in -ose (glucose, sucrose, fructose…) are typically sugars

We tend to think that added sugar is mainly found in desserts like cookies and cakes, but it's also found in many savory foods, such as bread and pasta sauce. And some foods promoted as "natural" or "healthy" are laden with added sugars, compounding the confusion. In fact, manufacturers add sugar to 74% of packaged foods sold in supermarkets.1 So, even if you skip dessert, you may still be consuming more added sugar than is recommended.

How do I know if I'm eating added sugar?

Added sugar is hiding in foods that many of us consider healthy, like yogurt and energy bars. It is also added to savory foods, such as ketchup, breads, salad dressing and pasta sauce.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires food producers to list all ingredients in their foods. But added sugar comes in many forms – which is why it's so hard to find on the ingredients label.2

There are at least 61 different names for sugar listed on food labels. These include common names, such as sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, as well as barley malt, dextrose, maltose and rice syrup, among others.

While product labels list total sugar content, manufacturers are not required to say whether that total includes added sugar, which makes it difficult to know how much of the total comes from added sugar and how much is naturally occurring in ingredients such as fruit or milk. That makes it very difficult to account for how much added sugar we're consuming.2,3

Daily Added Sugar Limits Women: 6 tsp. (25g) Men: 9 tsp. (38g) Children: 3-6 tsp. (12-25g)

Unlike salt and fats that are added to foods, nutrition labels don't provide you with a daily reference value for added sugar.

However, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 9 teaspoons (38 grams) of added sugar per day for men, and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day for women.5 The AHA limits for children vary depending on their age and caloric needs, but range between 3-6 teaspoons (12 - 25 grams) per day.

Even "healthy" foods can be high in sugar

With as many as 11 teaspoons (46.2 grams) of added sugar in some 12-oz. sodas, a single serving exceeds the AHA recommendation for men and is about twice the allowance for women and children. But sugar isn't only in beverages and sweet baked goods. Here are some healthy-looking items you might find in the supermarket that also have high sugar contents:

- One leading brand of yogurt contains 7 teaspoons (29 grams) of sugar per serving.

- A breakfast bar made with "real fruit" and "whole grains" lists 15 grams of sugar.

- A single cup of bran cereal with raisins, in a box advertising "no high-fructose corn syrup," contains 20 grams of sugar per serving.

- A cranberry/pomegranate juice product, also advertising "no high-fructose corn syrup" and "100% Vitamin C," contains 30 grams of added sugar per 8 oz. serving. Some of the sugar is naturally occurring, but some of it has been added.

Changing labels to help consumers

Americans consume 57 pounds of added sugar each year, on average.

Making healthy food decisions requires having complete information on the food label. When sugars are hidden unrecognizably in most packaged foods, it's a difficult choice to make.

To address this, the FDA is considering revising the current label design, including changing the way a serving size is measured and possibly adding a separate line item highlighting the amount of added sugar.4

There is active discussion right now in public health circles about how to make nutrition labels easier to read and the need for clearer recommendations on how much added sugar is safe to consume. Stay tuned to SugarScience as we follow this discussion and interpret its impact for consumers.

1. Agave nectar.

2. Barbados sugar.

3. Barley malt.

4. Barley malt syrup.

5. Beet sugar.

6. Brown sugar.

7. Buttered syrup.

8. Cane juice.

9. Cane juice crystals.

10.Cane sugar.


12.Carob syrup.

13.Castor sugar.

14.Coconut palm sugar.

15.Coconut sugar.

16.Confectioner’s sugar.

17.Corn sweetener.

18.Corn syrup.

19.Corn syrup solids.

20.Date sugar.

21.Dehydrated cane juice.

22.Demerara sugar.



25.Evaporated cane juice.

26.Free-flowing brown sugars.


28.Fruit juice.

29.Fruit juice concentrate.


31.Glucose solids.

32.Golden sugar.

33.Golden syrup.

34.Grape sugar.

35.HFCS (High-Fructose Corn Syrup).


37.Icing sugar.

38.Invert sugar.

39.Malt syrup.





44.Maple syrup.



47.Palm sugar.


49.Powdered sugar.

50.Raw sugar.

51.Refiner’s syrup.

52.Rice syrup.


54.Sorghum Syrup.


56.Sugar (granulated).

57.Sweet Sorghum.



60.Turbinado sugar.

61.Yellow sugar.

Sugar goes by various alternative names, especially when it's added to processed foods and beverages. These alternative names for sugar are often used on ingredient labels, which can make it challenging to identify sugar content. Here are some common alternative names for sugar:

  1. Sucrose: This is the scientific name for table sugar, which is composed of glucose and fructose molecules bonded together.

  2. Glucose: A simple sugar that is a primary energy source for the body. It can also be used as a sweetener.

  3. Fructose: Another simple sugar naturally found in fruits, vegetables, and honey. It is often used as a sweetener, particularly in high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

  4. High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): A liquid sweetener made from cornstarch, primarily composed of glucose and fructose. It's commonly used in processed foods and beverages.

  5. Corn Syrup: A sweet syrup made from cornstarch, which contains glucose and maltose. It is often used in baked goods and candies.

  6. Dextrose: A simple sugar derived from corn and often used in food production.

  7. Maltose: A sugar composed of two glucose molecules bonded together. It's commonly found in malted foods and beverages.

  8. Lactose: The natural sugar found in milk and dairy products.

  9. Agave Nectar: A sweet syrup derived from the agave plant. While it's marketed as a natural sweetener, it is high in fructose and should be used in moderation.

  10. Maple Syrup: A sweet syrup made from the sap of sugar maple trees. It is a natural sweetener but should also be used in moderation due to its high sugar content.

  11. Honey: A natural sweetener produced by bees from flower nectar. It is mainly composed of glucose and fructose.

  12. Brown Rice Syrup: A sweet syrup made from cooked brown rice. It's often used as an alternative sweetener in organic and natural foods.

  13. Date Sugar: Made from dried, ground dates, it can be used as a natural sweetener in baking and cooking.

  14. Barley Malt Extract: A sweet syrup made from barley malt, often used in malted beverages and baked goods.

  15. Turbinado Sugar: A less refined sugar with larger crystals. It is sometimes considered less processed than white sugar but is still a form of sugar.

  16. Beet Sugar: Sugar extracted from sugar beets, similar in composition to cane sugar.

  17. Evaporated Cane Juice: A less refined form of cane sugar that retains some of the molasses, giving it a slightly different flavor.

It's important to be aware of these alternative names for sugar when reading food labels, especially if you're trying to monitor or reduce your sugar intake. Keep in mind that sugars may be listed under multiple names within the same product, making it essential to check ingredient lists carefully.

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