Sun | Apr 22, 2018

Identifying food's sweet kickback

Published:Wednesday | February 29, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Most of us are familiar with regular table sugar, sucrose. This is made from sugar cane and sugar beet in some countries. However, there are other types of sweeteners, used mostly in commercial food processing. There is also fructose (fruit sugar), a naturally occurring sugar in fruits and honey, a combination of fructose, glucose and water, made by bees.

High-fructose corn syrup and corn syrup are made from corn and used in many commercially prepared baked products, sauces, and beverages. It is in liquid form and is made from maltose, glucose and dextrose.

Other types of sweeteners

Dextrose is a combination of glucose and water.

Invert sugar is made by dividing sucrose into its two fractions of glucose and fructose. It is sweeter than sucrose and is in liquid form. It is used in candies and some baked items and gives them sustained sweetness.

Agave nectar is a highly processed type of sugar made from the tequila plant, a type of cactus. It is made of glucose and fructose and is 1.5 times sweeter than sucrose.

Stevia, an extract of sweet leaf which is a plant of the sunflower family, is 300 times sweeter than sugar and contains erythritol.

Maltose (malt sugar) produced during fermentation is found in beers and bread.

Maple syrup, made from the sap of the maple tree, is made of fructose, glucose and sucrose.

Molasses is raw cane sugar.

Sugar alcohols

Mannitol can have a laxative effect if eaten in large amounts and is found in some sugarless gums.

Sorbitol, used in many diet foods, is made from glucose and is found naturally in some fruits. It is absorbed slowly in the body and has half the calories of sugar.

Erythritol, a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in fruits and fermented foods, is 60-70 per cent sweeter than sugar with less calories. It does not raise blood sugar, or cause tooth decay and stomach upset like some other sugar alcohol if less than 50 grams is ingested.

Week one: no sugar added - Lent journey:

Many people take this journey. Reported challenges include not being able to identify sugar sources; some go 'cold turkey' and eliminate all added sugar at once; others maintain the minimum two teaspoons per day; for me, an ortanique orange hits the spot for that after-meal sweet treat and some drink junkies find relief in fresh coconut water.

On to week two; tell us about your journey.

Rosalee M. Brown is a registered dietitian/ nutritionist who operates Integrated Nutrition and Health Services; email: