A sweet crystalline substance obtained from various plants, especially sugar cane and sugar beet, consisting essentially of sucrose, and used as a sweetener in food and drink. The World Sugar Research Organisation (WSRO) an international scientific research organisation globally supported by the sugar industry and committed to upholding the fundamental principles of science considers sugars are a class of carbohydrates and thus one source of food energy. Carbohydrates can be divided into 3 different groups, namely: sugars; oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. Sugars can be further divided into 3 classes: monosaccharides; disaccharides and polyols.

Monosaccharides are single unit sugars. Those commonly found in food are:

  • glucose (often called blood sugar when talking about blood glucose)
  • fructose (one of the main sugars found in fruit – the others are sucrose and glucose)
  • galactose (found in milk)

Disaccharides consist of two monosaccharides linked together. Those commonly found are:

  • sucrose (table sugar) = glucose + fructose
  • lactose (milk sugar) = glucose + galactose
  • maltose (malt sugar) = glucose + glucose

References to “sugar” usually mean sucrose or table sugar, while references to “sugars” means any combination of mono-, di- and oligosaccharides.

Despite these scientific details, sugar, to some of us, is just sugar and it is sweet. The sweetness in foods has varying degrees. Unfortunately, sugar is sneaked into so many processed foods, even some of our local delicacies are now laden with sugar. The problem is that we have also become so accustomed and addicted to the sweet taste and we just have no idea how much sugar we are consuming on a regularly.

Dr Robert Lustig says “First, there are 56 names for sugar, and the food industry uses all of them. What they’ll often do is use different kinds of sugar specifically to lower the amount of any given one so that it goes further down the ingredient list.” It’s a sneaky trick that manufacturers use so that “sugar” isn’t the first thing people see. “You can have different sugars for ingredient number five, six, seven, eight and nine; but if you add them up, it’s number one.”

In this ‘hide and hide’ game, sugar-sweetened drinks are the worst offenders. The data on the nutrition label of 12 oz (355 ml) can of cola has total sugar 39g and total calories 140 and it is equivalent to nine teaspoons of sugar.

Research showed that by drinking one cola day, a normal weight individual increases their risk dying from heart disease by as much as one third and 50% of Americans drink at least one cola a day.

Now you know, don’t allow sugar sneak in on you, see the many names below and learn as many of them as you can so next time you read your label you can detect the hidden sugar.

beet sugar
brown sugar
buttered syrup
cane-juice crystals
cane sugar
caramel
carob syrup
corn syrup
corn syrup solids
date sugar
dextran
dextrose
diatase
diastatic malt
ethyl maltol
fructose
fruit juice
fruit juice concentrate
glucose
glucose solids
golden sugar
golden syrup
grape sugar
high-fructose corn syrup
honey
invert sugar
lactose
malt syrup
maltodextrin
maltose
mannitol
molasses
raw sugar
refiner’s syrup
sorbitol
sorghum syrup
sucrose
sugar
turbinado sugar
yellow sugar

So how many of the names have you learnt by heart? The names increase all the time, share the ones you know. I love to learn.

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