11 Nutrition Label Ingredients That Are Basically Code for "Sugar"

Kelsey Clark

While I'd like to think that food manufacturers want the public to eat healthfully, one glance at a nutrition label tells a different story. Especially when it comes to the ingredient everyone loves to hate: sugar. Hiding in unassuming foods like white bread, salad dressing, and pasta sauce, both sugar and added sugar come in many forms—most of which sound more like a science experiment than an edible ingredient. According to New York–based dietitian itte Zeitlin, these are the 11 words commonly found on nutrition labels that are basically code for sugar:

  1. Dextrose
  2. Fructose
  3. Glucose
  4. Maltose
  5. Saccharose
  6. Sucrose
  7. Honey
  8. Agave
  9. Molasses
  10. Evaporated cane juice
  11. Any syrups, nectars, juices, or purées

Keep in mind that the first six ingredients are commonly found in packaged foods "in order to manipulate the taste and extend the shelf-life" while the rest are typically found in foods marketed as "naturally sweetened." 

"These foods are still loaded with added sugars, but because ingredients like molasses and fruit juice are plant-based, manufacturers can get away with calling them 'natural,'" Zeitlin explains.

Have you found a foolproof method for avoiding added sugars? Share your thoughts below! 

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