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Spotting hidden sugars

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Hidden sugars can make managing prediabetes or diabetes difficult, and staying on top of your sugar consumption a nightmare. Learn how to spot sugars in their many forms.

What are hidden sugars?

You may not be adding sugar to the food you eat but did you know it’s in foods you might not even think of as sweet? Popular foods like ketchup, pasta sauces, beer and soup often have added sugar, and it’s this form of sugar we think of as hidden sugars. A large part of our daily sugar intake is hidden inside various packaged and processed foods, many of which are marketed as healthy. This means we need to be on top of our game when it comes to sleuthing out sugar.

How to spot hidden sugars

Get in the habit of checking your food labels. Often foods don’t have sugar listed in the ingredients on packaging, but still contain sugar, just listed under another name. Hidden sugars often end in ‘ose’, but not always. Don’t forget that natural sweeteners are sugars too. Here’s some examples:

  • Sucrose
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • High fructose glucose syrup
  • Invert sugar
  • Isoglucose
  • Levulose
  • Maltose
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Agave syrup

How ingredient lists are ordered

Ingredients are listed by weight on packaged foods, so the more there is of an ingredient, the higher up the list of ingredients it will be. Food manufacturers often take advantage of this and to make their products appear healthier, some use smaller amounts of three or four types of sugar in a single product. These sugars then appear further down on the ingredients list, making a product look low in sugar when in fact, when combined, sugar is one of its main ingredients. Sneaky!

So whether you are diabetic, prediabetic, or watching your sugar levels for other reasons, it’s good to be aware of the different ways hidden sugars appear on packaging. Get familiar with the names sugar goes by so you can make the right choices for you.

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