Wouldn’t it be nice if all of us didn’t need to have 1) a basic understanding of food science in order to choose packaged foods that aren’t full of crap that’s bad for our bodies, or 2) time and resources to make everything we eat from scratch so we don’t have to even think about what’s in packaged food? I think it would be nice. Geez, I think it would be ideal and, honestly, I’d take either option because I love to cook! But who has time to make everything, all the time?!
Given that we need to know what we’re putting in our bodies, if we want to feed our intentions to be healthy, let’s talk some more about why we need to read every label, especially as it relates to sweeteners…
I’ve written before about the fact that we need to eat real food always. To support that end, I would love to give you a one-stop list for the names of every single thing that gets added to our food that you should avoid. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s possible, as there are constantly new ingredients being created and the list would be so long I’m pretty sure you would think I’d lost my mind by implying it was useful. Plus, you would rightfully want to know whether you needed to avoid the ingredient altogether or if a little consumption was okay, and what factors you should take into consideration for any gray areas.
So, I’m not going to try to do that. However, I do want to give you a reference list for all the different sweeteners that are on the market. Okay, well, all the sweeteners that I know about!
The reasons I think this list is important are in my blog post The Story of Sweeteners. (To summarize: each category of sweeteners comes with its own negative impacts in the body and, while all of them should be at least limited in a healthy diet, there are some that should be avoided all together.) Since I ask the participants of my on-line group programs to give up all sweeteners for various portions of our time together, I want to be sure they (and you!) have somewhere they can look for which ingredients to avoid.
Oh! And if you’re looking for a specific brand or ingredient, I suggest using the search function on your browser because this is a long list.
Without further ado, here it is…
Artificial sweeteners (avoid at all costs)
As of the writing of this post, there are 8 types of artificial sweeteners and 33 brand names that I could find.
- Acesulfame Potassium (the blue packet, brand names: DiabetiSweet, Equal, Sunett, Sweet One)
- Adventame (derived from aspartame, no brand names)
- Aspartame (brand names: AminoSweet [outside US], Canderel [outside US], Equal [including Measure and Spoonful], NatraTaste Blue, NutraSweet)
- Aspartame-Acesulfame Salt (outside US only, brand name: TwinSweet)
- Cyclamate (outside US only, brand names: Assugrin, Chuker, Cologran, Hermesetas, Huxol, Novasweet, Rio, Sucaryl, Sugar Twin [Canada], Suitli, Sweet N’ Low [Canada])
- Neotame (no brand names)
- Saccharin (the pink packet, brand names: Necta Sweet, SugarTwin, Sweet’N Low)
- Sucralose (the yellow packet, brand names: Cafe Delight, EZ-Sweetz, FreeKal, N’Joy, NatraTaste Gold, Natural Mate, NuSweet, Splenda, SucraDrops)
“Natural” Sweeteners (use with extreme caution)
As of the writing of this post, there are 41 possible names for these “natural” sweeteners that I could find.
- Corn syrup (other names: corn sweetener, corn syrup solids)
- Dextrose (other names: anhydrous dextrose, crystal dextrose)
- Fructose (as an ingredient on a package, not as found naturally in fruit; other names: crystalline fructose)
- Glucose (as an ingredient on a package, not as found naturally in plants like vegetables and fruit; includes glucose solids)
- High-fructose corn syrup [HFCS] (other names: refiners syrup)
- Inverted sugar (other names: invert sugar, inverted sugar syrup)
- Lactose (as an ingredient on a package, not as found naturally in milk)
- Sugar Alcohols (not often sold as a separate sweetener, but often used to sweeten sugar-free foods or make sugar-free syrups)
- Erythritol (brand name: ZSweet)
- Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH)
- Isomalt (brand names: ClearCut, Decomalt)
- Maltitol (including syrup, powder, and hydrogenated forms)
- Xylitol (brand names: Xyla, Xylipure, Xylosweet, Zint)
- Tagatose (brand names: Natrulose, Swerve)
- Trehalose (brand name: SweetT)
Natural Sweeteners (use judiciously)
As of the writing of this post, there are 81 possible names for these “natural” sweeteners that I could find.
- Agave nectar
- Beet sugar
- Brown sugar (other names: dark brown sugar, free-flowing brown sugar, golden sugar, jaggery, light brown sugar, yellow sugar)
- Buttered syrup (syrup made by melting butter, sugar and milk together)
- Cane juice (other names: cane juice crystals, cane syrup, dehydrated cane juice, evaporated cane juice, evaporated cane syrup)
- Cane sugar (also see “sugar” below)
- Carob syrup (syrup made by melting carob powder and sugar or honey together)
- Castor sugar (other names: caster sugar, super-fine sugar)
- Coconut sugar (other names: coconut palm sugar)
- Date sugar
- Demerara sugar
- Fruit juice (other names: fruit juice concentrate)
- Golden syrup (other names: light treacle)
- Grape sugar
- Malt sugar (other names: barley malt syrup, malt syrup)
- Maple syrup (the real stuff)
- Molasses (including blackstrap, dark and light; other names: black treacle)
- Monk fruit extract (other names: luo han guo)
- Oat syrup (other names: avena sativa)
- Palm sugar
- Pearl sugar (other names: hail sugar, nib sugar)
- Piloncillo (other names: panela, panocha, penuche, raspadura)
- Powdered sugar (other names: confectioner’s sugar, glazing sugar, icing sugar)
- Raw sugar (other names: Barbados sugar, muscovado sugar)
- Rice syrup (other names: brown rice syrup, rice bran syrup, rice malt syrup)
- Sanding sugar
- Sorghum syrup (other names: sorghum molasses, sweet sorghum)
- Stevia leaf powder
- Sugar (other names: Florida crystals, granulated sugar, saccharose, sucrose, table sugar, white sugar)
- Tapioca syrup
- Turbinado sugar
Difficult to categorize, possible sweeteners
Okay, this is a strange category because some people call these additives sweeteners because they have a sweet taste, while others say their purposes in food are for something other than sweetening (such as a thickener). Since none of them are natural, I still say to use with caution (unless otherwise noted)…
- Barley malt (technically, it is what is left when barley has been sprouted, dried and heated; but can be turned into barley malt syrup, so some people consider the malt itself to be a sweetener)
- Diastatic malt powder (typically a combination of flour, barley malt, sugar and other ingredients used in bread making)
- Ethyl maltol
- Inulin (often a good form of fiber)
Whew! I warned you it’s a long list of names, so thanks for sticking with me to the end. If I have missed any, please let me know in the comments so I can add them!
Also, if you can’t remember why you should care about all these names, check out part 1: The Story of Sweeteners.