If you’ve ever been on an elimination diet or a cleanse, I am sure sugar was out of the plan. If you’re on a weight loss plan, Sugar and desserts are definitely a big NO. However, truth is sneaky little particles of sugar lurk everywhere, even in places we might perceive as “healthy”. Health food stores and snacks are stocked with treats that are covered with labels such as “organic” or “no sugar added”. Yes, they could be much better than a bag of Maltesers or that double chocolate cake staring at you at the coffee shop fridge. But for the legit sugar-free mob, this article might be useful.
Sugar (sucrose) is a fairly recent product. It didn’t become generally available until about a century and a half ago. Before manufactured sugar became widely available, people used honey. Nowadays sugar is a major product and is derived from several plants such as cane sugar and beets. Some sweeteners offer more nutrition than the commercial refined white crystal sugar. For instance, blackstrap molasses contains a good amount of iron, and raw honey offers enzymes and antioxidants. But it is worth mentioning that these “natural sweeteners” are still identified as sugar by our bodies. Another example is fruit yoghurt that is deemed as a healthy/low calorie snack; one small tub of fruit yoghurt has up to 2 tablespoons of sugar!
Note to health food companies – just because you put the word “organic” doesn’t make it healthy! Here are other alternative names for sugar. When you want to read labels next time you go grocery shopping, this list will help you in identifying sneaky hidden sugars:
# Barley malt Dehydrated cane juice Golden sugar Molasses
# Barbados sugar Demerara sugar Golden syrup Muscovado
# Beet sugar Dextran Grape sugar Panocha
# Brown sugar Dextrose High fructose corn syrup Powdered sugar
# Buttered syrup Diastatic malt Honey Raw sugar
# Cane juice Diatase Icing sugar Refiner’s syrup
# Cane sugar Ethyl maltol Invert sugar Rice syrup
# Caramel Free flowing brown sugars Lactose Sorbitol
# Corn syrup Fructose Malt Sorghum syrup
# Corn syrup solids Fruit juice Maltodextrin Sucrose
# Confectioner’s sugar Fruit juice concentrate Maltose Sugar (granulated)
# Carob syrup Galactose Malt syrup Treacle
# Castor sugar Glucose Mannitol Turbinado sugar
# Date sugar Glucose solids Maple syrup Yellow sugar
The old consensus that goes “but this is not sugar, its cane syrup!” should be re-addressed. By using lots of different types and names of sugar, food manufacturers are able to list their sugar contents and get away with it. We need to become more sugar aware, and vet these labels carefully to manage our sugar intake. Not only for us as adults, but for our children too.
Zein Nimri is an AFPA certified sports nutritionist, NESTA kids nutritionist, long distance runner, cyclist and traveller with big dreams. Follow her on Instagram @Zeinutritionist