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Added Sugars

Pear mascot reading box of food

Sugars can come from natural and added sources. For example, fruit and milk are sources of natural sugar. Added sugars, on the other hand, typically come from syrups and sweeteners that are added to foods and recipes. Sugar is also commonly added at the table, such as on cereal or sprinkled on fruit.

Other Names for Added Sugar

Sugar goes by many different names on the food label. Words that end in “-ose” such as fructose and maltose are some of the different names for sugars.

Here are some examples of other names for added sugars you may find in an ingredient list:

anhydrous dextrose fructose molasses
Agave nectar cane crystals corn sweetener
crystalline fructose invert sugar maltose
brown rice syrup fruit nectar pancake syrup
brown sugar glucose raw sugar
evaporated cane juice high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) sucrose
cane sugar maple syrup Beet sugar
confectioner's powdered sugar honey sugar
corn syrup invert sugar sugar cane juice
crystal dextrose liquid fructose white granulated sugar
dextrose malt syrup evaporated corn sweetener
Coconut sugar Turbinado sugar carob syrup

For more information on reading a food label, check out our webpage

Common Foods that Contain Added Sugars

Sometimes it is obvious when a food contains added sugar because it tastes sweet. There are some foods, though, that can be surprising when it comes to sugar content so it is important to check the nutrition facts label if you are concerned about how much added sugar you are eating. Take a look below for some of the most common sources of added sugars that you will find in the grocery store. 

  • Sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, sweetened tea, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks and lemonades, and sweetened coffee.
  • Sweet baked goods such as cakes, cookies, brownies and pastries
  • Candy
  • Breakfast cereals and breakfast bars
  • Ice cream and other frozen desserts
  • Some spaghetti sauces 
  • Baked beans 
  • Peanut butter and other nut butters
  • Condiments such as syrups, jams, ice cream toppings, BBQ sauce and ketchup.
  • Salad dressings

Small Steps to Reduce Added Sugar Intake

It can seem overwhelming to cut down on your sugar intake all at once, but little steps can add up to big changes. There’s no need to completely eliminate added sugars. Enjoy some of your favorite foods that contain added sugar in moderation and balance your choices with foods that contain less added sugar. Here are a few steps you can take to slowly reduce your sugar intake. 

woman and child sharing fruit and cake
  • It may be helpful to reduce the amount of sugar in your drinks over time. This will allow you to adjust to the new flavor of less sweet drinks. For example, if you drink sweetened tea or coffee, you can start by adding half the amount of sugar to drinks and then adding less each day. If you purchase your drinks already sweetened, you can purchase some sweetened and some unsweetened. Mix them so that you have half of the sweetened version and half unsweetened. Then, continue to reduce the amount of the sweetened version that you mix in. For more information on making better beverage choices, check out our webpage:
  • Balance desserts that have added sugar with ones that have less. For example, some nights you may choose to enjoy a small slice of cake or a cookie after dinner and on other nights you may choose to make a small yogurt parfait or a bowl of fruit with a dollop of whipped cream. Balance, not elimination, of dessert choices should be the goal.
  • If you have the time, cooking some foods at home allows you to have more control over how much extra sugar is in your food. You can slowly cut back on the amount of sugar in a recipe (or use natural sources of sugar, like bananas, in some baked goods) until you find a flavor that you and your family will enjoy.