With over 70 names, Sugar is truly the master of disguise. While most of us know to look for common names like sucrose and glucose on food labels, there are many lesser-known types of sugar, like invert sugar.
Have you ever heard of it? If not, you are not alone. Invert sugar is commonly found in sodas, ice cream, and baked goods. Basically, it’s liquid sugar. But there is more to the story than that.
What is invert sugar?
Basically, invert sugar is sugar in a viscous liquid form. Honey is also considered a natural source of invert sugar.
Food manufacturers prefer this liquid sugar “because it adds more sweetness, gives a softer and smoother product texture, dissolves more easily and is also more resistant to microbial spoilage,” explains Marisol Ortiz, MS, RDN. It also helps foods like shelf-stable baked goods retain their moisture.
“Invert sugar isn’t much different from table sugar or other added sugars,” Ortiz says. “Nutritionally it’s the same. What makes it different is its composition.
You’ll find invert sugar in products like:
- A soda
- Flavored coffee or tea drinks
- Baked goods
- Flavored dairy products (ice cream, yogurt, etc.)
- Jellies and jams
Is invert sugar bad for you?
Sugar is sugar, so it is essential to consume invert sugar in moderation. Invert sugar belongs to the category of “added sugars”. This literally means that sugar was added to the product during processing.
Natural sugars in fruits, starches, dairy products and legumes are present alongside fats, fiber and/or proteins which slow the digestion of glucose. It helps to maintain your energy for longer. Try to get most of your naturally occurring sugar from these foods.
Added sugar has little to no nutritional value, but it still contains calories, so it’s important to watch how much you eat.
THE American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 100 calories of added sugars per day (about 6 teaspoons). For men, the limit is 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons.
According to Dietary Guidelines for Americans, less than 10% of your daily calories should come from added sugars. That’s no more than 200 calories on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Sugar is a carbohydrate, so it provides four calories per gram. So try to consume less than 50 grams of added sugar per day. This equates to approximately a bottle (16 ounces) of Coke or around 24 Sour Patch Kids Candy.
If you don’t eliminate sugar, invert sugar can be part of a balanced diet, says Ortiz.
“It’s OK to eat that ice cream if that’s what you feel like,” she said. “Honor your body with foods that nourish you, but also foods that can simply bring comfort and joy.”
Other names for invert sugar
Just as granulated sugar has many names, so does invert sugar. If you don’t eat added sugar for some reason, be sure to look for these names on labels:
- invert syrup
- Inverted sugar
- Sugar Syrup
- simple syrup
How to make invert sugar
Invert sugar starts with granulated sugar, water, and cream of tartar or citric acid. Once the mixture boils and cools, you have invert sugar. The acid and heat help break down the sucrose molecules (aka Granulated sugar) in the smaller molecules of glucose and fructose.
But as a reminder, invert sugar is an added sugar, so pay attention to the recommended daily intake of this type of nutrient.