The different names for sugar

Different types of sugar including white, brown, cubes and crystallised sugar

We explain more about the different names for sugar that appear on our infographic.

If you see any of these on an ingredients list, be aware that they are all types of sugar, and too much added sugar is bad for your health. 

Agave nectar/Agave syrup

The agave plant grows in the Southern US and South America. It is cut and pressed to extract its sugary fluid, and then refined and processed. This processing produces concentrated sugary syrup, sometimes called agave nectar. Although it’s often claimed to be healthier than traditional sugar, there’s no evidence to back this up.  
Barley malt syrup  Made by cooking barley down to make a sticky syrup. Sometimes used in breakfast cereals, snack bars and sauces. Also called malt syrup.
Beet sugar Sucrose extracted from sugar beet. The sugar that comes from sugar beet is used widely in baked goods, drinks, cereals, and sweets.
Blackstrap molasses
See molasses.
Brown rice syrup Similar to barley malt syrup. Made from wholegrain rice treated with enzymes to break down its natural starch into sugars. Sometimes found in breakfast cereals and snack bars.
Brown sugar
Brown sugar is sucrose (table sugar) with some molasses included. It may be less refined than regular table sugar, or it may be refined sugar with molasses added in. Either way, it is not any healthier than regular sugar. 
Cane juice Juice that’s pressed from sugar cane and boiled at a high temperature. It may sometimes be crystallised through evaporation and referred to as evaporated or dehydrated cane juice. However, it’s basically the same as cane sugar, just with some molasses left which give it a darker colour.
Cane sugar
Sucrose extracted from sugar cane, which usually comes in the form of sugar cubes or granules. 
Made by heating sugar. Used as a flavouring or colouring in many different foods, including breakfast cereals. 
Carob syrup
Made using the pods of the carob tree, native to the Middle East. Sometimes used as a sweetener instead of honey. It’s often sold as “natural” or “healthier”, but it’s still mostly sugar. 
Coconut blossom nectar  See coconut sugar.
Coconut sugar 

Made from the sap of coconut palm flowers. It may contain small amounts of minerals but it’s still mostly made up of sucrose, the same substance found in table sugar.

Concentrated apple juice  

See fruit juice concentrate

Corn sugar  Made from the starch extracted from corn kernels, which is refined to create solid sugar or syrup (see corn syrup). 
Corn syrup   Corn syrup is found in lots of processed foods, such as cereal, breads, ready meals, dressings and sauces.  
Crystallised fructose   Made from corn, the crystallised fructose is nearly 100% fructose and 20% sweeter than sugar. Often found in carbonated drinks, sports drinks, flavoured waters, and processed foods.  Sometimes called ‘crystalline’ fructose. 
Dark muscovado sugar  Muscovado sugar is less refined than regular table sugar, but is no healthier. 
Date sugar  Despite being made from dates this still has a high sugar content, so isn’t much healthier than regular table sugar and won’t offer the same health benefits as eating whole dates. Whole dates will be sweet, but a much less concentrated form of sugar as well as being a source of vitamins and minerals and fibre.
Date syrup  See date sugar.
Dextrose  Found in many processed foods, baked goods and desserts and also sold as energy tablets. 
Evaporated/Dehydrated cane juice   See cane juice.
Fructose  Fructose is the sweetest of the naturally occurring sugars. Small amounts in fresh fruit are OK, but when it is extracted and added to foods as a sweetener it’s no better for you than other sugars. 
Fruit juice concentrate  Found added to lots of ‘healthy’ versions of products, like cereal bars and biscuits, this doesn’t have any of the goodness of fresh fruit but it does have a high sugar content.  


Added glucose is often found in sauces, salad dressings, energy bars, cereals, cakes and pies, and sugary drinks. 
Glucose fructose syrup  Used in many baked goods, cereal products, confectionery, jams and preserves, yogurts and other sweetened dairy products, and sauces such as mustard and ketchup. It is made up of glucose and fructose combined in varying quantities. Sometimes called isoglucose. 
Glucose syrup  See corn syrup.
Golden caster sugar
Golden caster sugar is slightly less refined and has smaller crystals than regular granulated sugar, but the sugar content is exactly the same and it’s not any better for you. 
Golden syrup  Golden syrup is made from cane sugar or sugar beet. It’s produced by further processing one of the by-products of the sugar refining process. It’s often found in baked goods and desserts. 
Grape sugar   Despite being made from grapes this still has a high sugar content, so isn’t much healthier than regular table sugar. This type of sugar is extracted from the grapes so bears no relationship to including whole grapes in your diet as part of your five-a-day. Whole grapes will provide you with water, fibre and a range of vitamins and minerals.
Honey  Honey may be seen as less refined and more 'natural' than regular table sugar, but it actually contains a similar amount of sugar, so we still need to be careful how much we're consuming. Although it may come with some nutrients that are associated with health benefits, the actual amount consumed will be so small that any health benefit would be minimal. As it's produced by bees it's not considered suitable for a vegan diet. 
Invert sugar Invert sugar (and invert syrup) is made by splitting sucrose into its two components, glucose and fructose. It’s used in many baked goods because it retains moisture, improving the shelf life of foods. 
Invert syrup See invert sugar.
Isoglucose  See glucose fructose syrup.
Jaggery  Jaggery is an unrefined sugar product, made in Asia and Africa from sugar cane or palm sap. In India it’s known as ‘gur’ and is used in some traditional desserts. It’s also sometimes used to sweeten drinks. Although there are some claims that jaggery can benefit your health, these are not backed up by evidence. It may contain some traces of minerals but is still mostly sucrose. 
Malt sugar See maltose.
Malt syrup See barley malt syrup.
Maltose Maltose is often added to many processed foods, including cereals, snack bars, pizzas and other bread products. 
Maple sugar Maple sugar is prepared from the sap of the maple tree. The sap is boiled, making first maple syrup and then solid maple sugar. It’s sometimes used as an alternative to cane sugar.
Maple syrup See maple sugar.
Molasses Extracted during the making of cane sugar or beet sugar. May be found in cakes and baked goods. It has a richer, slightly bitter taste than regular sugar. Although health claims are sometimes made for molasses, these are not backed up by evidence. It does contain some minerals but is about 75 per cent sugar, and there are other much healthier ways of getting these minerals in your diet.  
Organic sugar Organic sugar may be less refined than regular table sugar but it is still sugar, so you should limit the amount you consume.
Palm sugar An unrefined sugar made from the sap of the flower of palm trees, usually date palms. Sugar made from coconut palms is also referred to as coconut sugar.
Raw sugar Raw sugar is less refined than regular table sugar but it is still sugar, so you should limit the amount you consume. 
Sorghum syrup  Made from the stems of the sorghum grass, which has a high sugar content. It’s sometimes used in baked goods, instead of molasses, corn syrup, maple syrup or honey. 
Sucrose Sucrose is the crystallised white sugar we know as regular table sugar.
Sugar  Conventional table sugar is pure sucrose, made from either sugar cane or sugar beet. Although sucrose is commonly known as 'sugar', the term 'sugars' refers to all mono and disaccharides such as fructose, lactose and glucose, that can be naturally occurring in foods or added. 
Sugar beet syrup  Made from sugar beets, rather than sugar cane, and refined into concentrated syrup.
Treacle  Treacle is processed from the syrup left after sugar has been refined. Black treacle is the same thing as molasses.

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