A Simple Guide to Sugar Shopping

Sugar can be confusing,

What is it – is it good for me? To what extent can I enjoy it without worrying? 

Sugar can be emotional,

Why can't we have our cake and eat it too? 

Sugar can be malleable,

What is 25% less sugar, artificial sweeteners, fructose & agave? 

Sugar can be creative,

From exfoliants to Pavlova’s 

Sugar can be threatening, 

Rates of diabetes and obesity are increasing in developed countries

Sugar can be sustaining, 

Sugar is responsible for many metabolic processes that keeps us healthy and alive!

Sugar can take on many definitions to different types of people.

Today, our sugar blog is a 3-part series that explores our favorite Non-GMO Fair-Trade sugar & sugar alternative options, while also covering health trends, topics & questions that are often related to sugar.




  1. Sugar Shopping Guide (Types, Measuring Equivalents, and Sweetness Scale)
  2. Frequently asked Questions (What is FODMAP?)
  3. Marketing Claims & How to Read Sugar on a Nutritional Label




Natural sweetener's occur naturally in nature:

  • Agave Nectar
  • Molasses
  • Date Syrup
  • Maple Syrup
  • Honey


At our shop, we carry Non-Centrifugal sugar (NCS), otherwise known as unrefined sugar, or minimally refined solid product produced by sugarcane juice evaporation.

The following are NCS unrefined sugars:


Origin: Sugarcane

Sweetness: 1:1 with Brown or White Sugar

"Whole Cane Sugar still contains all of the sugarcane’s natural molasses, it has a deep brown color and a distinct, natural flavor that’s ideal for chocolate-based recipes, baked goods, BBQ sauces, marinades, and wholesome sweets aplenty."

Shop now: Wholesome Sweetener's Sucanat

Dark Brown Sugar

Origin: Sugarcane coated with Molasses (cubes)

Sweetness: 1:1 with Sugar

"With its rich molasses flavor, it’s perfect for baking cakes, cookies and pies. The rich flavor also lends itself well to BBQ sauces, baked beans and meat glazes. Add this to your oatmeal in the morning for pure, delicious taste."

Shop now: Wholesome Sweetener's Dark Brown Sugar

Coconut Palm Sugar

Origin: Sap of the Coconut Palm Tree

Sweetness: 1 to 1 with with Sugar or Light Brown Sugar

"Perfect for baking luscious brownies, cookies and cakes, sweetening your preferred coffee, preparing sauces and perfecting your favorite Asian dishes, all thanks to its rich molasses taste and caramel overtones"

Shop now: Wholesome Sweetener's Coconut Palm Sugar

Raw Turbinado Sugar

Origin: Sugarcane

Sweetness: 1 to 1 with Sugar

"This sweet and crunchy raw cane sugar tastes absolutely delicious sprinkled on cereal and oatmeal or blended into fruit smoothies and cappuccinos"

Use as a crunchy topping on your: cakes, cookies, muffins, crumbles, pies, crème brûlée

Shop now: Wholesome Sweetener's Raw Turbinado Sugar 




Origin: Made from leaves of Stevia Plant

Sweetness: 200-300x sweeter than table sugar

Shop now: Herbal Select: Stevia Powder

Monk Fruit

Origin: Luo Han Guo - a small round fruit native to southern China

Sweetness: 150-200x sweeter than table sugar

Shop now: KRISDA: Monk Fruit Sweetener


Sugar alcohols are low-digestible carbohydrates derived from the hydrogenation of their sugar or syrup sources.

Taste: Sugar alcohols are ∼25–100% as sweet as sugar.

  • Erythritol
  • Xylitol
  • Isomalt
  • Lactitol
  • Maltitol
  • Mannitol
  • Sorbitol


Origin: Fermented fruits and vegetables

Sweetness: 60-70% as sweet than table sugar


  • Low Glycemic Index
  • Diabetic- and Keto-friendly
  • 95% fewer calories than Sugar
  • 70% as sweet as Refined Sugar

Shop now: Herbal Select: Erythritol Sweetener


Origin: Commercially extracted from Corn Cobs

Sweetness: Just less than 5% as sweet as sugar

Shop Now: KRISDA: Xylitol Sweetener


  • Low Glycemic Index
  • Diabetic- and Keto-friendly
  • 95% fewer calories than Sugar
  • 70% as sweet as Refined Sugar





What is Sugar

Sugars are a naturally-occurring molecule in the form of carbohydrates and generally found as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen (C-H-O).

Natural Sources

Nutritionally, sugar is a staple in the human diet, and is farmed from many sources like cane sugar, honey, vegetables, and fermented foods.

Sugar Chemistry

Internally, it is known as glucose, a carbohydrate responsible for many metabolic functions, and is closely related to many neighbouring systems such as the heart, hormones, and thyroid.

Sugar in Society

Sugar is also a delicacy in many food cultures, accentuating sweets, breads, and beverages.

What is a Sugar Alcohol?

Polyols or sugar alcohols and other new sugars, are low-digestible carbohydrates derived from the hydrogenation of their sugar or syrup sources.

How can I Spot a Sugar Alcohol on the Label:  

  • Sorbitol
  • Xylitol
  • Mannitol
  • Isomalt
  • Maltitol
  • Lactitol

What is Refined Sugar?

Refined sugars (processed sugar) are when raw sugar is modified (via extraction processes, or chemically).

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup

Refining sugars can help increase the intensity of a sweetness, and extend shelf-life.

How does Sugar Impact on our Health?

Sugar contains so many beneficial and integral features to human health, but unregulated and processed intake can also harm our bodies.


What is Glycemic Response (GR)?

Glycemic response is a measurement of how carbohydrate-containing foods effect blood-glucose levels.

For the purpose of this blog:

Glycemic response (GR) can be measured as the total of two components:

  • Glycemic Index
  • Glycemic Load

What is Glycemic Index (GI)?

Glycemic index is a measurement scale (1 to 100) that ranks foods based on its effects on blood-sugar levels. (Loosely the amount of carbohydrates ability to raise blood-glucose levels)

The 1 to 100 Scale:

  • Low GI (55 or less) 
  • Medium GI (56-69)
  • High GI (70 or more)


What is Glycemic Load (GL)?

Glycemic Load can indicate the total effect of how carbohydrates effect blood sugar-levels.

Examples are

  • Onset of response (from Intake)
  • The Duration of Response

What is FODMAP?

FODMAP stands for (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides, and Polyols)

Some literature suggests sticking to a low FODMAP diet can be beneficial for irritable bowel syndrome (BS). Contact your Health Care Provider before taking on any diets or supplementation.

How is Keto related to Sugar Intake?

Carbohydrate restriction can propel the body into a state of ketosis, where fats are burned as an energy source instead of traditional glucose.


How to Read Sugar on the Label

Sugars will be listed as Total Carbohydrates on the Nutrition Label

Total Carbohydrates

  • Fiber
  • Sugars
  • Sugar Alcohols

The total carbohydrate in grams, represents fiber, sugars & alcohols – you do not need to add sugar (grams) to carbohydrates


How to Count Sugar Alcohols on a Dietary Label:

Sugar alcohols compared to conventional sugar may be harder to digest.

So: When counting carbohydrates for products made with sugar alcohols:

  1. Subtract half of the grams of sugar alcohol listed on the food label
  2. From the total grams of carbohydrate



  • The amount of sugar alcohol is 18 grams per serving.
  • Calculate half the grams of sugar alcohol (18 grams of sugar alcohol divided by 2 equals 9 grams).
  • Subtract only half of the grams of sugar alcohol from the total carbohydrate Count this product as 20 grams of carbohydrate (29 grams total carbohydrate minus 9 grams sugar alcohol equals 20 grams of carbohydrate).

Some Nutrition Facts labels may also list sugar alcohols under total carbohydrate.

How to Count Sugar

  • 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 Calories
  • 1 tsp sugar = 5 grams carbohydrate = 20 Calories
  • 1 tbsp sugar =15 grams carbohydrate = 60 Calories

How is Sugar Labelled

Today, there are over 55 different names for added sugar on a food packaging label, all with varying number of calories and sweetness.

Understanding how to read a label will teach you how to make informed decisions when it comes to sugar shopping. (Please refer to the bottom of this list to receive a complete list and breakdown of sugar-types and labels)

What can Sugar be Listed As?

  • Glucose, Fructose, Dextrose, Dextrin, Fructose-Glucose, Galactose
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCN)
  • Concentrated fruit juice, Corn Syrup
  • Agave Syrup, Maple Syrup, Date Syrup, Nectar, Honey, Cane Sugar,

How does Fiber relate to my Sugar Intake?

Fiber is a different type of carbohydrate from simple sugars. It is complex, made up of multiple sugar molecules. It shares different structural characteristics and functions in the body.

What can be listed under Sugars on the Nutrition Label?

The grams of sugar are made up natural sugars from milk and fruits, natural and artificial sweeteners, and more added sugars.



Today, there is no reason for sugar to remain a scandalous secret. Sugar should be accepted, not feared or silenced. 

However, understanding types of sugars, and processing practices will allow for informed decisions when shopping in the baking aisle.

Why care about Sugar --> Read below

Health Conscious

People subject to metabolic syndrome, and dietary restrictions benefit from understanding how sugar is integrated into their day-to-day.

Global Impact

You care about sugar farming because you are conscious about food sourcing, and its ecological impact.

Did you know that many non-organic, or unspecified sugar sources are able approved to be irradiated, and can contain animal residues without public labelling?

Did you know:  Our brands selected are 100% organic, unrefined, non-irradiated sugars with non gelatin residues, and promote sustainable farming practices.

Baking & Practical Use

It helps to understanding if you can substitute or swap a specific sugar in a recipe.

This includes standard equivalents, and sweetness scale relative to table sugar 

For the Curious

Understanding how to read the nutrition label



















Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published