What is sugar?

The word “sugars” describes the group of carbohydrates that provide energy to the body and help to make our food sweet. Sugars come in many forms and have different names because of their chemical structures. “Glucose”, “fructose” and “lactose” are different types of sugars. The word “sugar” usually means white or brown table sugar (or sucrose). It is found naturally in sugar cane and sugar beet, extracted through a refining process and then granulated.

Sources of sugars

Sugars can occur naturally in fruit, vegetables, starches, grains and most plant-based foods. Fructose is found in fruits and vegetables, while lactose is in milk and milk products.
“Added sugars” are the granules, syrups and sugars added to food and drinks for flavour, texture or colour.

Sugar in the ingredients

The ingredient list shows the ingredients in a packaged food. Ingredients are listed in order of weight, starting with the ingredient that weighs the most and ending with the ingredient that weighs the least. A food contains more of the ingredients listed first, and less of the ingredients at the end of the list. Common words for sugar in the ingredient list:

• Agave nectar
• Barley malt
• Beet sugar
• Brown sugar
• Caramel
• Corn sweetener
• Corn syrup solids
• Dextrin
• Dextrose
• Evaporated cane juice
• Fructose
• Fruit juice concentrations
• Galactose
• Glucose
• High-fructose corn syrup
• Honey
• Lactose
• Liquid glucose-fructose
• Liquid invert sugar
• Maltodextrin
• Maltose
• Molasses
• Raw cane sugar
• Sucrose
• Syrup (e.g., malt, barley, rice, maple, corn)

There may be more sugars hiding in your food than you think! Be sure to check food labels for some of these other names for sugar.