Spotting Hidden Sugars & Artificial Sweeteners

Avoiding added sugars and artificial sweeteners requires some serious label-reading powers. That job gets even trickier when food manufacturers hide these additives behind deceptive names. So, how can you suss out hidden sugars and artificial sweeteners in your food? The list below contains some common names for each.

You know that you’re going to find sugars and artificial sweeteners in dessert foods, but these additives can hide in unexpected places. Bread, tomato sauce, and bottled salad dressings are a few examples to look out for. In general, if it comes in a box, bag, or jar, you want to check that label before assuming that a food is free of added sweeteners.

Avoiding Hidden Sugars and Artificial Sweeteners

Of course, there is a silver bullet way to avoid the ingredients in the lists below: eat whole foods and cook from scratch.

I’m a big advocate for getting into the kitchen and preparing your food from whole food ingredients. But I’m also a work-at-home mom to a toddler who understands that preparing everything you eat from scratch just isn’t always practical.

Related Reading: 5 Non-Food Uses for Sugar

Of course I don’t advocate eating packaged and prepared foods for every meal, but sometimes you just need to get a meal on the table or find a snack to hand to your kid, so that you can focus on other things.

Cooking from scratch isn’t always easy, but there are a few ways to save time and eat more home-prepared foods:

  • Weekend Cooking. This is my favorite strategy, when I can make it happen. Set aside a couple of hours on your day off to cook a few big batches of food. You can serve these up all week long. Think of these as frozen dinners that you can trust!
  • Prioritize. There are some foods that are best made from scratch and others that make sense to buy prepared. If you’re short on time, decide what your priorities are.
  • Go Simple. A snack or meal doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious. Instead of a granola bar, grab a banana and peanut butter in the morning, for example. If you’re short on time for supper, throw a quick salad together instead of heating up a microwave meal.

Even with these tricks, though, sometimes you’re going to be grabbing packaged food at the store. Learn how to keep the refined sugars and artificial sweeteners out below!

List of Hidden Sugars

Common Names for Refined Sugars

Ingredients that contain the words below are names for hidden sugars. These words can appear in conjunction with other words. Syrup is a good example. You might see corn syrup, evaportated cane syrup, brown rice syrup, or any number of other syrups. If it’s syrup, it’s sugar.

  • agave
  • cane juice
  • cane sugar
  • caramel
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • glucose
  • honey
  • invert sugar
  • juice
  • lactose
  • maltose (See a pattern? “-ose” means sugar)
  • molasses
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • syrup

Artificial Sweeteners

Common Names for Artificial Sweeteners

If you’re trying to avoid artificial sweeteners, check your ingredient lists for these names.

  • acesulfame potassium
  • alitame
  • aspartame
  • cyclamate
  • Dulcin
  • Equal
  • Glucin
  • kaltame
  • mogrosides
  • neohesperidin dihydrochalcone
  • neotame
  • NutraSweet
  • Nutrinova
  • phenylalanine (A phenylalanine warning can alert you to hidden Aspartame)
  • saccharin
  • Splenda
  • sucralose
  • Twinsweet
  • Sweet N Low
  • Sweetmyx

Image Credit: Creative Commons packaged food photo by

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Ellie M
Ellie M4 months ago


Sonia M
Sonia M4 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Janet B
Janet Babout a year ago


Leio d.
Past Member 1 years ago

Each time I used to always check blog posts within the first hours in the break of day, because I like to get information increasingly more.Synthetic turf

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Nell N.
Past Member 2 years ago

Don't buy these from stores but make them yourself and you know exatly what's in there.

2 years ago

good info

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago


Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey2 years ago

It's very difficult to buy healthy processed foods. And there's not always the time to cook from scratch. But you shouldn't need a degree in chemistry to be able to spot the added dross.

Kamia T.
Kamia T2 years ago

It's getting now to the point where you simply can't find a processed food item that doesn't have two or more of these obnoxious ingredients. All the more reason to simply start eating whole organic foods cooked at home.