Added sugar may be the single unhealthiest ingredient in the modern diet.
On average, Americans eat about 15 teaspoons of added sugar each day, although sources vary on the exact figure (1). Most of this is hidden within processed foods, so people don't even realize they're eating it.
Sugar goes by many different names, so it's very difficult to figure out how much a food actually contains. Photo credit: Shutterstock
Sugar goes by many different names, so it's very difficult to figure out how much a food actually contains. Below are 56 different names for sugar.
But first, let's briefly explain what added sugars are and how the different types can affect your health.
What is Added Sugar?
During processing, sugar is added to food to enhance flavor, texture, shelf life or other properties.
Added sugar is usually a mixture of simple sugars such as glucose, fructose or sucrose. Other types, such as galactose, lactose and maltose, are less common.
Unfortunately, food manufacturers often hide the total amount of sugar by listing it under several different names on ingredients lists.
Bottom Line: Sugar is commonly added to processed foods. Manufactures often use several different kinds of sugar so they can hide the real amount.
Glucose or Fructose—Does it Matter?
In short, yes. Glucose and fructose—even though they're very common and often found together—have very different effects on the body.
Glucose can be metabolized by nearly every cell in the body, while fructose is metabolized almost entirely in the liver (4).
Although eating any extra sugar should be avoided, it is especially important to minimize your intake of added sugars that are high in fructose.
Bottom Line: Added sugar goes by many names, and most types consist of glucose and/or fructose. High-fructose added sugars are more harmful.
56 Different Names for Sugar
Sucrose is the most common type of sugar.
Often called “table sugar," it is a naturally occurring carbohydrate found in many fruits and plants.
Table sugar is usually extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets. It consists of 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose, bound together.
Bottom Line: Sucrose is also known as table sugar. It occurs naturally in many fruits and plants, and is added to all sorts of processed foods. It consists of 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose.
2. High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
High-fructose corn syrup is a widely used sweetener, especially in the US.
It is produced from corn starch via an industrial process, and consists of both fructose and glucose.
There are several different types of HFCS, which contain varying amounts of fructose.
Two notable varieties are:
- HFCS 55: This is the most common type of HFCS. It contains 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose, which makes it similar to sucrose in composition.
- HFCS 90: This form contains 90 percent fructose.
High-fructose corn syrup is found in many foods, especially in the US. These include soda, breads, cookies, candy, ice cream, cakes, cereal bars and many others.
Bottom Line: High-fructose corn syrup is produced from corn starch. It consists of varying amounts of fructose and glucose, but the most common type contains 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose.
3. Agave Nectar
Agave nectar, also called agave syrup, is a very popular sweetener produced from the agave plant.
It is commonly used as a “healthy" alternative to sugar because it doesn't spike blood sugar levels as much as many other sugar varieties.
However, agave nectar contains about 70–90 percent fructose, and 10–30 percent glucose.
Given the harmful health effects of excess fructose consumption, agave nectar may be even worse for metabolic health than regular sugar.
Bottom Line: Agave nectar or syrup is produced from the agave plant. It contains 70–90 percent fructose and 10–30 percent glucose. It may be even more harmful for health than regular sugar.
4 - 37. Other Sugars with Glucose and Fructose
Most added sugars and sweeteners contain both glucose and fructose.
Here are a few examples:
- Beet sugar
- Blackstrap molasses
- Brown sugar
- Buttered syrup
- Cane juice crystals
- Cane sugar
- Carob syrup
- Castor sugar
- Coconut sugar
- Confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
- Date sugar
- Demerara sugar
- Evaporated cane juice
- Florida crystals
- Fruit juice
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Golden sugar
- Golden syrup
- Grape sugar
- Icing sugar
- Invert sugar
- Maple syrup
- Muscovado sugar
- Panela sugar
- Raw sugar
- Refiner's syrup
- Sorghum syrup
- Treacle sugar
- Turbinado sugar
- Yellow sugar
Bottom Line: These sugars all contain varying amounts of both glucose and fructose.
38 - 52. Sugars With Glucose Only
These sweeteners contain glucose, either pure or combined with sugars other than fructose (such as other glucose units or galactose):
- Barley malt
- Brown rice syrup
- Corn syrup
- Corn syrup solids
- Diastatic malt
- Ethyl maltol
- Glucose solids
- Malt syrup
- Rice syrup
Bottom Line: These sugars are comprised of glucose, either on its own or with sugars other than fructose.
53 - 54. Sugars With Fructose Only
These two sweeteners contain only fructose:
- Crystalline fructose
Bottom Line: Pure fructose is simply called fructose or crystalline fructose.
55 - 56. Other Sugars
There are a few added sugars that contain neither glucose nor fructose. They are less sweet and less common, but are sometimes used as sweeteners:
Bottom Line: D-ribose and galactose are not as sweet as glucose and fructose, but are also used as sweeteners.
There's No Need To Avoid Natural Sugars
There's no reason to avoid the sugar that is naturally present in whole foods.
Fruit, vegetables and dairy products naturally contain small amounts of sugar, but they also contain fiber, nutrients and various beneficial compounds.
The negative health effects of high sugar consumption are due to the massive amount of added sugar that is present in the Western diet.
The most effective way to reduce your sugar intake is to eat mostly whole and unprocessed foods.
However, if you decide to buy packaged foods, be on the lookout for the many different names that sugar goes by.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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When hurricanes and other extreme storms unleash downpours like Tropical Storm Beta has been doing in the South, the floodwater doesn't always stay within the government's flood risk zones.
New research suggests that nearly twice as many properties are at risk from a 100-year flood today than the Federal Emergency Management Agency's flood maps indicate.
Flooding Outside the Zones<p>About <a href="https://furmancenter.org/files/Floodplain_PopulationBrief_12DEC2017.pdf" target="_blank">15 million</a> Americans live in FEMA's current 100-year flood zones. The designation warns them that their properties face a 1% risk of flooding in any given year. They must obtain flood insurance if they want a federally ensured loan – insurance that helps them recover from flooding.</p><p>In Greater Houston, however, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1539-6924.2012.01840.x" target="_blank">47% of claims</a> made to FEMA across three decades before Hurricane Harvey were outside of the 100-year flood zones. Harris County, recognizing that FEMA flood maps don't capture the full risk, now <a href="https://www.hcfcd.org/floodinsurance" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recommends that every household</a> in Houston and the rest of the county have flood insurance.</p><p>New risk models point to a similar conclusion: Flood risk in these areas outstrips expectations in the current FEMA flood maps.</p><p>One of those models, from the <a href="https://firststreet.org/flood-lab/research/2020-national-flood-risk-assessment-highlights/" target="_blank">First Street Foundation</a>, estimates that the number of properties at risk in a 100-year storm is 1.7 times higher than the FEMA maps suggest. Other <a href="https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aaac65" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">researchers</a> find an even higher margin, with 2.6 to 3.1 times more people exposed to serious flooding in a 100-year storm than FEMA estimates.</p>
What FEMA’s Flood Maps Miss<p>Understanding why areas outside the 100-year flood zones are flooding more often than the FEMA maps suggest involves larger social and environmental issues. Three reasons stand out.</p><p>First, some places rely on relatively old FEMA maps that don't account for recent urbanization.</p><p>Urbanization matters because impervious surfaces – think pavement and buildings – are not effective sponges like natural landscapes can be. Moreover, the process for updating floodplain maps is locally variable and can take years to complete. Famously, New York City was updating its maps when Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012 but hadn't finished, meaning flood maps in effect <a href="https://projects.propublica.org/nyc-flood/" target="_blank">were from 1983</a>. FEMA is required to assess whether updates are needed every five years, but the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/cis/nation.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">majority of maps</a> <a href="https://www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/2017/OIG-17-110-Sep17.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">are older</a>.</p><p>Second, binary thinking can lead people to an underaccounting of risk, and that can mean communities fail to take steps that could protect a neighborhood from flooding. The logic goes: if I'm not in the 100-year floodplain, then I'm not at risk. Risk perception <a href="https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab195a" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">research</a> backs this up. FEMA-delineated flood zones are the major factor shaping flood mitigation behaviors.</p><p>Third, the era of climate change scuttles conventional assumptions.</p><p>As the planet warms, extreme storms are becoming <a href="https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/" target="_blank">more common and severe</a>. If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at a high rate, computer models suggest that the chances of a severe storm dropping 20 inches of rain on Texas in any given year will increase from about 1% at the end of the last century to 18% at the end of this one, a chance of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1716222114" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">once every 5.5 years</a>. So far, <a href="https://www.rstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/195.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">FEMA hasn't taken into account the impact climate change is having</a> on extreme weather and sea level rise.</p>
Racial Disparities in Flooding Outside the Zones<p>So, who is at risk?</p><p>Years of research and evidence from storms have highlighted social inequalities in areas with a high risk of flooding. But most local governments have less understanding of the social and demographic composition of communities that experience flood impacts outside of flood zones.</p><p>In analyzing the damage from Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area, I found that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aba0fe" target="_blank">Black and Hispanic residents disproportionately experienced flooding</a> in areas beyond FEMA's 100-year flood zones.</p><p>With the majority of flooding from Hurricane Harvey occurring outside of 100-year flood zones, this meant that the overall impact of Harvey was racially unequal too.</p><p>Research into where flooding occurs in Baltimore, Chicago and Phoenix points to some of the potential causes. <a href="https://www.nap.edu/read/25381/chapter/4#16" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In Baltimore and Chicago</a>, for example, aging storm and sewer infrastructure, poor construction and insufficient efforts to mitigate flooding are part of the flooding problem in some predominantly Black neighborhoods.</p>
What Can Be Done About It<p>Better accounting for those three reasons could substantively improve risk assessments and help cities prioritize infrastructure improvements and flood mitigation projects in these at-risk neighborhoods.</p><p>For example, First Street Foundation's risk maps account for <a href="https://firststreet.org/flood-lab/research/flood-model-methodology_overview/" target="_blank">climate change</a> and present <a href="https://floodfactor.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ratings</a> on a scale from 1 to 10. FEMA, which works with communities to update flood maps, is <a href="https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1521054297905-ca85d066dddb84c975b165db653c9049/TMAC_2017_Annual_Report_Final508(v8)_03-12-2018.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">exploring rating systems</a>. And the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recently <a href="https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2019/03/new-report-calls-for-different-approaches-to-predict-and-understand-urban-flooding" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">called for a new generation of flood maps</a> that takes climate change into account.</p><p>Including recent urbanization in those assessments will matter too, especially in fast-growing cities like Houston, where <a href="https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1boBRyDvMFW6W" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">386 new square miles</a> of impervious surfaces were created in the last 20 years. That's greater than the land area of New York City. New construction in one area can also <a href="https://scalawagmagazine.org/2018/01/city-in-a-swamp-as-houston-booms-its-flood-problems-are-only-getting-worse/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">impact older neighborhoods downhill</a> during a flood, as some Houston communities discovered in Hurricane Harvey.</p><p>Improving risk assessments is needed not just to better prepare communities for major flood events, but also to prevent racial inequalities – in housing and beyond – from <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/03/05/688786177/how-federal-disaster-money-favors-the-rich" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">growing</a> after the unequal impacts of disasters.</p>
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