10 Hidden Names for Sugar

by Melissa Chichester

According to the American Heart Association, “American adults consume an average of 77 grams of sugar per day, more than 3 times the recommended amount.”

Furthermore, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services cites that the average American “consumes almost 152 pounds of sugar in one year” compared to two pounds per year 200 years ago!

There’s no doubt about it: we love sugar! Or do we? The truth is, sugar is hidden in many foods and can be difficult to recognize, even if you’re trying to avoid it. Many processed foods contain sugar, and you may not realize how much sugar you are actually consuming on a daily basis. This may have been a factor in why the FDA requires that all Nutrition Facts labels list added sugars in addition to total sugars by July 2021. 

For those trying to avoid sugar, this can be extremely frustrating. If you’re trying to avoid sugar or excess sugar in foods, it is important to be able to recognize the different names that sugar goes by. Many labels do not say “sugar” in the ingredients but instead, they list sugar as something else. Here are 10 other names for sugar that you can look for on the label.

High fructose corn syrup

High fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, is made out of corn syrup and is a super sweet sugar added to many processed foods. This is a common sweetener that has seen reduced use in the recent past.

Corn syrup solids 

Corn syrup solids are made by removing the water from corn syrup. 


Sucrose is the most common type of sugar known as table sugar. It comes from sugar beets or sugar cane. This type of sugar is found in condiments (such as ketchup), pastries, cookies, candy, soda, ice cream, and many other foods. 

Colorful candy with sugar

Brown rice syrup

This sugar is made from brown rice. It is highly digestible but contains very few nutrients compared to the rice it comes from. Many “natural” food bars use brown rice syrup as a sweetener; however, it is still a refined form of sugar.


Maltose is made from fermented grains and starches such as barley and rice. 


Glucose is your body’s main source of energy and is found in many different foods. When glucose travels through your bloodstream, it is known as “blood glucose.” This is what is measured when a doctor tests for high or low blood sugar. 


Lactose is a sugar that comes from milk. Your body uses the lactase enzyme to break down milk sugars. 

Barley malt syrup

Barley malt syrup is a thick, dark brown, and very sticky sugar made from malted barley. It is not as sweet as white sugar.

hidden sugar is in bread crust

Diastatic malt 

Would you look at this ingredient and think it is a type of sugar? Most people wouldn’t, but diastatic malt comes from barley that has sprouted and was then dried and ground to a powder. This is a “secret ingredient” bakers use to make bread have a delectable texture and firm crust. 


Fructose or “crystalline fructose” is a fruit sugar found in many plants and also in processed foods. Many sugars are made with fructose. 

While these aren’t the only hidden sugars in processed and packaged foods, these names provide glues of what to look for on the label. And it’s important to note that eating sugar in processed foods is not the same as eating an apple or another piece of fruit. Processed foods typically do not have the abundance of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that fruit has, which changes how it interacts with your body. If you have any concerns about eating sugar, it is important to discuss it with your doctor.