Tricky Names for Sugar (And Other Important Sugar Tips)

Move over, Saturated Fat! A new public enemy has replaced you, and its name is sugar!

There have been many alarming headlines about the negative health impacts of sugar. In fact, too much sugar in our diet may lead to heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, cancer, diabetes and cavities. This has led the World Health Organization to develop new guidelines for sugar intake in children and adults, and many governments have followed suit. But before you start to panic and throw out everything in your cupboard or have a breakdown at the grocery store, here are some things to know about sugar.

What is sugar?

Sugar is a broad category of simple carbohydrates that your body uses to make energy. You might have heard that sugar gives you “empty calories,” because by itself, it doesn’t give you anything else nutritionally. There are two types of sugars:

Natural— sources of sugar include milk, fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes (beans and lentils). You don’t need to avoid foods with naturally-occurring sugars because they provide you with many nutrients that are part of a healthy diet.

Added— found in packaged foods, with many names such as:

  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Glucose-fructose (aka high fructose-corn syrup)
  • Maltose
  • Sucrose
  • Dextrose
  • Cane sugar
  • Molasses
  • Malt syrup
  • Caramel
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup

While raw sugar, evaporated cane sugar, molasses, brown sugar, agave syrup, honey, and maple syrup might sound more natural, they provide you with the same amount of sugar per gram.

How do I reduce my sugar intake?

Eat more whole, unprocessed foods. These foods are close to how they are found in nature, like whole fruits in vegetables, whole grains, fish, beans, lentils, lean meats, and dairy.

Cook at home, from scratch, more often. Meal planning can help with this – My Viva Plan® does it for you, or you can create your own within the program!

Try to avoid sugary drinks like pop, sports drinks, juice (even 100% fruit juice) and fancy coffee drinks. Quench your thirst with water or milk.

Read the labels. Look for “sugars” under “carbohydrates” on the Nutrition Facts Table. Note that “sugars” include both naturally occurring and added sugars. Use the Nutrition Facts Table to compare products and try to choose foods with less or no added sugar. All sugar-based ingredients are grouped in brackets under the name “sugars.”

For more tips on how to reduce your sugar intake or for more information, book an appointment with one of our dietitians.