50 Shades of Sugar

Many readers have asked about the different names for sugar sprinkled liberally throughout our food supply. So here they are. If you have trouble falling asleep, forget counting sheep. Counting sugar is a far more potent soporific. Learn them off by heart for your Christmas party trick!

I have divided them into two groups. Group 1 are synonyms for fructose. Group 2 are those that consist mostly or entirely of glucose. Both groups count towards your daily sugar allowance. The exceptions are lactose and galactose. Take this list with you next time you go shopping. You’ll notice that a single processed food often contains several different types of sugar. This is a deliberate ploy to disguise the fact that there is so much sugar in so many products. Now that you know sugar is a master of disguise, you’ll no longer be hoodwinked.


I’ve subdivided these into sugars, syrups, juices, oses and other. The message is that they all count. Total of 40 names.


  1. agave nectar
  2. barbados sugar
  3. beet sugar
  4. brown sugar
  5. cane sugar
  6. caster sugar
  7. coconut sugar
  8. confectioner’s sugar
  9. date sugar
  10. demerera sugar
  11. golden sugar
  12. granulated sugar
  13. grape sugar
  14. icing sugar
  15. invert sugar
  16. muscovado sugar
  17. organic sugar
  18. palm sugar
  19. raw sugar
  20. raw organic sugar
  21. superfine sugar
  22. table sugar
  23. turbinado sugar
  24. yellow sugar


  1. buttered syrup
  2. carob syrup
  3. high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  4. golden syrup
  5. maple syrup
  6. refiner’s syrup
  7. sorghum syrup


  1. cane juice crystals
  2. evaporated cane juice
  3. fruit juice
  4. fruit juice concentrate
  5. fruit juice extract
  6. OSES
  7. fructose
  8. crystalline fructose
  9. saccarose
  10. sucrose


  1. blackstrap molasses
  2. molasses
  3. caramel
  4. honey
  5. treacle
  6. Florida crystals
  7. panocha


Total of 18 names, 16 of which count (ie lactose and galactose are not part of your quota but I include them for completeness).


  1. corn syrup
  2. corn syrup solids
  3. malt syrup
  4. rice syrup


  1. maltose
  2. maltobiose
  3. maltodextrin
  4. maltodextrose
  5. barley malt
  6. diastatic malt
  7. ethyl maltol


  1. glucose
  2. glucose solids
  3. dextrose
  4. dextran
  5. diatase
  6. lactose = milk sugar
  7. galactose = a component of milk sugar

This is probably not an exhaustive list but it will cover most of what you are likely to come across in a supermarket. How many do you recognise? Enjoy playing hide and seek. The food industry tries to hide the sugar and the game is for you to find it

To view our series on the real effects of sugar on the body click on the titles below:

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