People living with diabetes or those who need to cut down on sugar are often told to be cautious about their sugar intake, focusing on added sugars that are commonly present in processed foods. Nutrition labels have made this easier, as spotting sugar in the ingredient list can be hard at times.
The following text is based on information by Diabetes UK and the British Heart Foundation. It does not, however, constitute any form of medical advice or diagnosis. Yo should not rely on it as a substitute for actual medical guidance, diagnosis or treatment by your doctor or healthcare provider. Talk to them to address any concerns about sugar, diet or diabetes, especially before making any major changes to your diet. Always aim for a balanced and healthy diet. You can ask your doctor for more information on how to do it in a way that is safe for your physical and mental health.
As Diabetes UK explains, sugar is naturally found in many of the foods you eat, including healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, where is present in the form of fructose, for instance. However, many manufactured foods contain added sugars, also known as “free sugars”. These are the sugars that constitute a public health issue, as a healthy diet should limit the intake of sugar, given common consumption patterns in many parts of the world.
Added sugars can be present in more or less conspicuous ways in different types of food beyond the caster sugar. Many sauces, cakes and ready-to-eat meals contain this type of sugar, as well as many drinks.
When trying to reduce your sugar intake, whether it is because you suffer from diabetes or simply strive for a healthier diet, checking nutrition labels can be helpful. Depending on the country, added sugars may even be listed separately, as it happens in the United States, for instance. This allows you to quickly learn how high in sugar a given product is, at a glance.
Nutrition labels make staying on top of your health easier, because you don’t have to take a look at the sometimes obscure ingredientslist. In those lists, sugar often takes many names. The British Heart Foundation lists many different types of sugar. We go over some of most common. Note that this list is by no means comprehensive —the original includes about 50 elements —.
Fructose: as it name implies, fructose is a type of sugar that is naturally present in fruit, being the sweetest of the natural sugars. While fruits present small amounts that are no cause of concern, fructose can be artificially added to many foods as a sweetener.
Dextrose: found in energy tablets and some processed foods and desserts.
Glucose: also present in fruits and honey, glucose can be added to many foods, commonly sauces, salad dressings, cereals and pies, as well as sugary drinks.
Maltose or malt sugar: commonly found in processed foods like cereals, pizzas, snack bard and bread products.
Cane sugar: this is sugar extracted from the sugar cane plant, often presented as granules or sugar cubes.
Maple sugar or maple syrup: obtained from maple tree sap, which is boiled to get syrup first and solid sugar then. It’s a common alternative for maple sugar.
Honey: as the BHF notes, many people may think of a natural source like honey as a healthier type of sugar. Despite having some nutrients that other sources lack, the amount of honey that you consume prevents you from getting any real benefits, experts warn. When it comes to honey, caution is equally advised.
Fruit juice concentrate: don’t be fooled by the name, as this can include lots of sugar without the actual nutrients and benefits from eating whole fruit.
The list goes on — you can check the full version on the BHF site — and includes many other names you may be familiar with, if you frequently check the labels.