I am also interested in removing as much added sugar from my diet as possible, however I am unfamiliar with what constitutes an added sugar when I look at an ingredient label.

Other than the ubiquitous HFSC (High fructose corn syrup), what are the most common added sugars that I should look for in labeling?

2 Answers 2


The best way to avoid added sugars is to look at the ingredients list for the following items. This list is not complete, but I've organized it into categories to make it easier to remember and draw conclusions about unnamed ingredients.

Obviously, anything labeled "sugar", such as:

  • brown sugar [1] [2]
  • confectioner's powdered sugar [1]
  • invert sugar [1] [2]
  • raw sugar [1] [2]
  • sugar [1]
  • white granulated sugar [1]
  • cane sugar [2]
  • date sugar [4]
  • sugar beet/beet sugar [5]

Many things labeled as "syrup"

  • corn syrup/corn syrup solids [1] [2]
  • high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) [1] [2]
  • malt syrup [1] [2]
  • maple syrup [1] [2]
  • pancake syrup [1]
  • honey syrup [2]

Many things labeled as "juice"

  • Evaporated cane juice [2] (may be listed as 'cane juice', 'cane juice solids', 'cane juice crystals' or dehydrated cane juice)
  • Fruit juice concentrates [2] (or listed as a specific fruit)
  • Fruit juice (or listed as a specific fruit)

In chemistry, sugar names end in -ose

  • dextrose [1] [2] (also anhydrous dextrose [1])
  • fructose [1] [2] (also crystalline fructose [2])
  • lactose [1]
  • maltose [1] [2]
  • sucrose [1] [2]
  • glucose [2]

And some ingredients that you might find in your own kitchen

  • honey [1]
  • molasses [1] [2]
  • nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar) [1]
  • Agave nectar [2]

Miscellaneous other ingredients that can signal sugars:

  • cane crystals [2]
  • corn sweetener [2]
  • Maltodextrin [3]
  • This is a useful answer! One thing I would add is that these are all just about equally unhealthy. There is no strong evidence for the belief that refined fruit juice, "pure cane sugar," or "unrefined agave syrup" is any healthier than HFCS.
    – octern
    Apr 21, 2015 at 15:39

There are a lot of different sources in food products that are added sugar.

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup - you already mentioned, but this is probably the most common added sugar
  • Glucose - also very common
  • Honey
  • Sucrose
  • Lactose

How to avoid added sugars

  • Limit yourself when eating sweets

    • Chocolate is the biggest offender; try dark chocolate instead of plain chocolate or even better, a banana
  • Drink less soda and juice

    • Many sodas (especially Coca-Cola) and fruit juices are very high in added sugar; you can usually buy less sugary juice
  • Less dairy products - dairy products have a lot of lactose and they have some risks too; milk is usually fine, but ice cream and yogurt are usually high in other types of sugar too

Top sources of added sugar in our diet

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