Unmasking Hidden Sugars

Written by Jordan

December 13, 2016

Our sugar intake isn’t always as obvious as the usual suspects such as sweets, biscuits, cakes and soft drinks. There are many types of hidden sugars that are included in different types of ‘modern’ packaged foods.

Did you know that food manufacturers often use 3-4 different types of sugars in their food? This enables them to breakdown the overall sugar quantity, listing the ‘individual’ sugars as separate ingredients, which appear further down the ingredient list.

When these products are advertised and marketed to the public, buzzwords such as ‘no sugar’ or ‘no calories’ are used to ‘trick’ the consumer into thinking a product is healthier than it actually is.

Below are the ingredient lists of foods that some people buy and consume on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. The ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, with the different types of sugar highlighted in bold below. Also listed are all the preservatives, additives, flavours and thickeners which are not natural ingredients.

Nutrigrain Ingredients:
Cereals (46%) (Wheat Flour, Oatmeal, Maize Flour), Sugar, Wheat Protein, Maltodextrin, Molasses, Oat Fibre, Salt, Minerals (Calcium Carbonate, Iron), Barley Malt Extract, Raising Agent (Potassium Bicarbonate), Flavour, Natural Colour (Paprika, Turmeric), Vitamins (Vitamin C, Niacin, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate).

LCM’s Chocolate Chip Rice Bubble Bars Ingredients:
Rice Bubbles (36%) (Whole Rice, Sugar, Salt, Barley Malt Extract), Glucose, Choc Chips (12%) (Sugar, Vegetable Fat, Milk Solids, Cocoa Powder, Emulsifiers [Soy Lecithin, 476, 492], Flavour, Salt), Fructose, Hydrogenated Soyabean Oil (Antioxidants [304, 307b, 320]), Sugar, Glucose Solids, Invert Sugar, Humectant (Glycerol), Gelatin, Natural Flavour, Salt, Emulsifiers (472e, 472a), Skim Milk Powder.

Twix Chocolate Bar Ingredients:
Sugar, Flour (sources include wheat), Glucose Syrup (sources include wheat), Milk Solids, Vegetable Fat, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Mass, Glucose, Cocoa Powder, Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin), Salt, Natural Flavour (Vanilla Extract).

Cookies & Cream Ice-Cream Ingredients:
Fresh Milk, Fresh Cream, Liquid Sugar (Sugar, Water),Chocolate Cookies (7%) [ Wheat Flour, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Cocoa Solids, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Salt, Raising Agent (500), Emulsifier (322 SOY), Corn Starch, Flavour], Milk Solids, Maltodextrin (Maize), Emulisifier (471), Thickeners (412, 407), Flavour, Colour (160b), Emulsifier (Soybean Lecithin).

Chocolate Up & Go Liquid Breakfast Ingredients:
Filtered Water, Skim Milk Powder, Cane Sugar, Wheat Maltodextrin, Soy Protein, Vegetable Oils (Sunflower, Canola), Hi-Maize Starch, Corn Syrup Solids, Inulin, Fructose, Cocoa (0.5%), Cereals (Oat Flour, Barley Beta Glucan), Minerals (Calcium, Phosphorus), Food Acid (322), Flavour, Vegetable Gums (460, 466, 407), Vitamins (C, A, Niacin, B12, B2, B6, B1, Folate), Salt.

Starburst Party Mix Ingredients:
Wheat Glucose Syrup, Sugar, Water, Thickener (Wheat Starch), Gelling Agents (Gelatine, Pectin), Food Acid (330), Apple Juice Concentrate, Flavour, Dextrose, Glazing Agent (903), Colours (102, 171, 122, 133, 110).

Peppermint Chewing Gum Ingredients:
Sorbitol, Gum Base, Humectant (422), Mannitol, Flavour, Sweetener (951, 955 = Aspartame and Sucralose), Emulsifier (322, From Soy), Antioxidant (321).

Black Liquorice Ingredients:
Wheat Flour, Treacle, Sugar, Water, Molasses, Wheat Glucose Syrup, Thickener (Maize Starch 1442 or Wheat Fibre), Vegetable Oil, Colours (102, 129, 133, 150d), Liquorice Extract, Natural Flavour, Salt, Emulsifier (471).

Apple & Raspberry Cordial Ingredients:
Sugar, Water, Fruit Juices from Concentrate (Apple 48%, Raspberry 2%), Food Acid (Citric Acid), Natural Flavour, Fructose, Preservatives (Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Metabisulphite), Natural Colour (Anthocyanins), Thickener (Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose), Natural Sweetener (Steviol Glycosides).

Classic Chocolate Milk Ingredients:
Whole Milk (91%), Sugar, Cocoa (1%) Maltodextrin, Flavours, Stabiliser (407), Salt, Colours (155, 133).

Banana Snack Bar 12+ Months Ingredients:
Banana Paste 40% {Fruit Puree Concentrate 46% (Pear 89%, Banana 11%), Sugar, Invert Sugar, Humectant (Glycerine), Wheat Fibre, Flavour (Natural), Colours (161b, 171), Antioxidant (Ascorbic Acid)}, Wheat Flour (Vitamin Thiamin), Water, Dextrose, Sugar, Butter, Oat Fibre, Whey Dextrose, Sugar, Butter, Oat Fibre, Whey Powder (From Milk), Inulin (Chicory), Glycerine, Vegetable Oil, Raising Agent (450, 500, 341, 339, Wheat Starch), Rolled Oats, Whey Protein Concentrated (From Milk), Flavour, Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin), Colour (160b).

Honey Soy Chicken Soy Sauce Ingredients:
Sugar, Water, Honey (12%), Soy Sauce (11%) (Water, Salt, Soybeans, Wheat, Colour: 150a, High Fructose Corn Syrup), Tomato Paste, Yeast Extract (Yeast Extract, Water, Salt, Sugar), Garlic, Onion, Salt, Modified Starch (1422), Acidity Regulator (270), Stabilizer (415), Flavour Enhancers (631, 627).

Shortcut Bacon Ingredients:
Pork (89%), Salt, Dextrose (Corn), Mineral Salts (451, 450), Antioxidant (316), Sugar, Water, Preservative (250).

Plain Chicken Sausage Ingredients:
Chicken (78%), Water, Rice Flour, Salt, Sugar, Yeast Extract, Mineral Salt (451), Sodium Metabisulphite (223), Dextrin (Tapioca), Vegetable Powder, Herbs, Rice Oil, Spices, Flavour, Herb Extract, Collagen Casings.

Frozen Sausage Roll Ingredients:
Wheat Flour, Beef Mince (19%), Margarine [Vegetable Fats and Oils, Water, Salt, Emulsifiers (471, 322-Soy), Acidity Regulator (331), Antioxidants (306-Soy, 320, 310), Flavour, Colour (160a)], Water, Cereal Crumb [Wheat Flour, Sugar, Salt, Yeast, Emulsifier (471), Vegetable Oil], Onion, Carrot, Salt, Worcestershire Sauce [Vinegar, Molasses, Flavours], Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein, Herbs and Spices, Soy Flour, Onion Powder, Preservative (223), Mineral Salts (451, 500), Spice Extracts, Maltodextrin, Sugar, Stabiliser( 415), Colours (150d, 160b).

Boost Chocolate Bar Ingredients:
Milk Chocolate (33%), Caramel (30%), Biscuits (6%). Ingredients: Sugar, Vegetable Fat, Milk Solids, Wheat Glucose Syrup, Cocoa Butter, Biscuits Pieces (Wheat Flour, Sugar, Tapioca Starch, Thickener (461), Dextrose, Salt, Emulsifier (471), Raising Agent (500), Acidity Regulator (334), Sweetened Condensed Milk, Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Powder, Inverted Sugar, Humectant (422), Emulsifiers (Soy Lecithin, 471, 476), Salt, Flavours.

As you can see from the ingredient lists above, manufacturers have added multiple sugars in each product – sweet or savoury.

Here is a list of artificial sweeteners, manmade sugars, sugar alcohols, technical sugars and natural sugars. Be aware that there are new artificial sweeteners that are constantly being created as well as existing sweeteners that are being renamed. So become aware, do your own research and eat as naturally as possible.

1. Artificial Sweeteners

  • Aspartame (also known as Sweetener 951)
  • Acesulfame-L
  • Nutra-sweet
  • Equal
  • Saccharin
  • Stevia (when it’s made with fillers and other artificial sweeteners – in its natural form it’s not artificial)
  • Sucralose (or Splenda)
  • Sweetleaf
  • Sweet-n-low
  • Truvia

For more information about the toxic artificial sweetener ‘aspartame’ which is now being rebranded as ‘AminoSweet’, watch this video here

2. Sugar Alcohols

  • Erythritol
  • Glycol
  • Glycerin
  • Iditol
  • Isomalt
  • Lacitol
  • Maltitol
  • Mannitol
  • Natvia (a blend of erythritol and stevia)
  • Ribotol
  • Sorbitol
  • Xylitol

3. Technical and Other Names for Sugar

  • Agave Nectar/ Syrup (This is very processed and has the highest fructose content of any commercial sweetener – with the exception of pure fructose)
  • Barley Malt Sugar/ Syrup
  • Brown Sugar
  • Beet Sugar
  • Cane Sugar
  • Caramel
  • Carob Syrup
  • Caster Sugar
  • Corn Sugar
  • Corn Sweetener
  • Confectioners’ Sugar
  • Diastatic Malt Powder
  • Demerara Sugar
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose (another name for Glucose)
  • Disaccharide
  • Fructose
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Humectant 422
  • Icing Sugar
  • Inverted Sugar
  • Juice Concentrate (derived from fruit)
  • Karo
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Molasses (can be highly processed)
  • Galactose
  • Glycerin
  • Gluco-malt
  • Glucose (also known as Dextrose)
  • Glucose Syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Raw Sugar
  • Refiners Sugar
  • Ribose
  • Rice Malt Syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Malt
  • Monosaccharide
  • Monkfruit
  • Muscovado
  • Panella
  • Polysaccharide
  • Treacle
  • Whey Dextrose
  • Wheat Glucose Syrup
  • White Sugar

Many of these sugars are made from wheat and corn which could be genetically modified. They are also produced in a chemical laboratory and are, as a group, around 40% cheaper than plain sugar (also known as sucrose). In nature, simple sugars are never found alone, they are always surrounded by other simple sugars, amino acids, fats, vitamins and minerals. They may begin as a food but through a bunch of chemical reactions they become something entirely different.

4. Natural Sweeteners

  • Blackstrap Molasses (unsulfured)
  • Coconut nectar
  • Coconut sugar
  • Dates
  • Raw honey
  • Fruit Juice (fresh, not pasteurised)
  • Fruit
  • Palm Sugar (sustainably sourced)
  • Pure Maple syrup
  • Stevia Leaf
  • Rapadura Sugar

If you’re just looking for an alternative to refined sugar to use occasionally, all of the above natural sweeteners are great choices. The reason being is that they’re natural, minimally processed (depending on the quality you purchase), and still contain the minerals and phytonutrients that occur naturally.

They also have better fructose: glucose ratios, which can be an important consideration for those with gut issues or fructose intolerance. This is why I never recommend agave nectar, because of its high fructose content. Natural sugars are sugars our body can use and break down, providing us with additional benefits other than just to sweeten a food or give us energy.

For instance, raw honey has natural antimicrobial properties, contains enzymes, antioxidants, irons, zinc, potassium, calcium, Vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin and phosphorous. These nutrients aid in wound healing and neutralising free radicals while promoting healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.  

Dates are also naturally loaded with potassium, copper, iron, manganese, Vitamin B6, Magnesium and more. They are easily digested and aid in metabolising fats, carbohydrates and protein.

Fruit also has many health benefits. Seasonal fruits have the ability to help hormones (insulin and leptin) to guide the body to store fat or use fat for survival.  The problem is that we have forgotten what our seasonal fruits are, as they’re available all year round, being shipped from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere and vice versa.

Living healthily doesn’t mean you have to give up sugar entirely, it just means you need to replace unhealthy refined sugars and artificial sweeteners with more natural sweeteners that can be found in nature.

Sugar is not the enemy. It is the quantity, lack of quality and abuse that makes it a food that must be treated with caution in. To say that sugar as a whole is bad and must be avoided at all costs, is to simplify something much more complicated.

However, if you are someone who is addicted to sugar and craves it often, then you would be wise to avoid it until your taste buds come back to not needing the over sweet stimulation.  Additionally, some people may be highly sensitive to even small amounts of sugar, often due to severe gut dysbiosis, and in this case they’re justified in avoiding sugar vigilantly.

For people who eat a whole food diet and occasionally indulge, enjoy seasonal fruit and other naturally sweet foods then you’re on the right path.

Additional Resources

  1. Sugar Is It Really The New Poison?
  2. That Sugar Film
  3. The Importance of Natural Sugars for the Human Body
  4. Is Refined Sugar Really Toxic?

Jordan Pie

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  1. Chris Atkins

    Great article, thanks for listing the additives & preservatives & explaining what they are. Also, what is the reason we can’t claim on our health funds for consultations with the nutritionists? It would be a great help if this was possible. Keep up the great work. Cheers Chris

    • Jordan Pie

      Hi Chris, no problem, I’m very happy to hear you liked my blog post. Unfortunately Nutritionists aren’t recognised by Medicare, only Dietitian’s are.

  2. Annique

    I noticed that you do not mention Agave on your list, is this a good or bad sweetener?

    • Jordan Pie

      Hi Annique, thank you for your question. We don’t recommend it due the processing it has to go through, you’re better off sticking to more natural sweeteners straight from nature such as fruit, raw honey, pure maple syrup or stevia leaf.

      • Annique Lee

        Thank you

  3. Perri Tanner

    I love your blog, and this is a helpful article. Unfortunately the sugar ingredients were not shown in red for me. Can you perhaps underline them?

    • Jordan Pie

      Hi Perri, yes we have now fixed it up for you, they are all in bold so you can clearly see them 🙂

  4. Kareen

    Great article. Thanks


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