How to spot hidden sugar in everyday foods

Added sugar is hidden nearly all processed food, which is one of the reasons why it is important to minimise it and cook from scratch, especially when trying to lose fat. I am devoting two more posts on this topic to provide some clear guidance on what to look out for when you head to the supermarket, and what to use as an alternative when you need a little sweetness!

Here is a list of common forms of sugar used on food labels, many companies will list several of these in one product. Some of these maybe obvious but this list is useful to screenshot and take shopping:


  • Agave nectar
  • Barbados sugar
  • Barley malt
  • Beet sugar
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Buttered syrup
  • Cane crystals
  • Cane juice crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Caramel
  • Carob syrup
  • Confectioners sugar
  • Corn syrup/sweetener/solids
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Date sugar
  • Dextrin
  • Dextran
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice



  • Ethyl maltol
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Grape sugar/grape juice concentrate
  • High fructose corn syrup (HCFS)
  • Honey
  • Icing sugar
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Mannitol
  • Maple syrup
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Rice syrup
  • Sorbitol
  • Sucrose
  • Treacle


It is extremely difficult to completely avoid sugars. It is about being aware of how much you are consuming and addressing it if necessary. Once you’ve identified the sugar on the ingredients list, have a look at  the quantity of sugar in the product. The NHS states that any product containing more than 22g of sugar per 100g is high, however if you are trying to lose weight and optimise your health, I would recommend avoiding any product that is higher than 5g of sugar per 100g.

So, we all need to reduce sugar but what about artificial sweeteners and natural sugars? Some of the sugars listed above are more natural than others, but how suitable are they as alternatives? For example, maple syrup commonly appears as a replacement in ‘healthy’ recipes.  My next article discusses this topic in more detail with tips on alternative ways to add sweetness to food.

Previous Article: Sugar Part 1: The Basics & How It Causes Weight Gain

Next article: Sugar Part 3: What’s The Alternative?

About The Author

Sarah Turner is a registered nutritional therapist, researcher and blogger here at Louise Digby Nutrition. She is currently studying physiotherapy and plans to practice a fusion of nutrition and physiotherapy once she has graduated.

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