Confused about sugar? Can't get your head around all the different types of the sweet stuff? And want to know if some are actually better for you than others?
Well, it's no surprise. There are at least 60 names for sugar, from your basic white sugar through to syrups and sugar alcohols, and trying to read food labels can be challenging.
So let's go back to basics. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate, and can be a monosaccharide (made up of a single simple sugar molecule), or a disaccharide (two simple sugar molecules joined together). Our body breaks down just about everything we eat into these sugars.
Natural sugars are present in many fruit, vegetables and dairy foods - even those that are not obviously sweet. Or they can be added to food, and it's that added or 'free' sugar that we need to limit to less than 10 per cent of total energy intake, according to the World Health Organisation.
"All packaged foods have an ingredients list, and they also all have a nutrition information panel, which lists total sugars," dietitian Dr Alan Barclay tells SBS.
"But therein lies one of the greatest points of confusion, because of course it is total sugars, which includes both naturally-occurring and added sugars or free sugars."
All sugars are not equal, says Dr Barclay. Different forms of sugar vary in how sweet they taste, based on their chemical composition. Glucose is a monosaccharide and is less sweet, compared to fructose, which is the sweetest known monosaccharide. Sucrose, or common sugar, is a disaccharide made up of glucose and fructose.
In Australia, sucrose comes mainly from the giant tropical grass sugarcane, while in the US, most of it is produced from sugar beets. Fructose, maltose and dextrose come from fruits and starchy plants. Lactose is a naturally occuring sugar found in dairy products.
We know most Australians eat too much sugar, and excessive consumption of the sweet stuff has been linked to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic disease, fatty liver and other chronic health conditions.
"Sugar has absolutely no nutritional benefit and that's why it is regularly termed as 'empty' calories, as it is literally just pure energy," says dietitian Hala El-Shafie, who runs Nutrition Rocks and is the resident nutritionist on season 2 of Sugar Free Farm (Thursdays at 8.35pm on SBS - find out more here).
On the show she helps a group of English celebrities eliminate sugar from their diets, and educate them about where sugar hides in their food. While most of us aren't likely to tackle the extreme diet the celebrities face, El-Shafie says hidden sugars can be a surprise for all of us.
"Being aware of hidden sugars is half the battle – the obvious sugar is one thing but if you don't understand food labels that makes it very difficult. You may not know all of the nicknames for added sugar and have a hard time spotting it in the ingredient list."
And for those who aren't cutting back on sugar, it still helps to understand the differences, given the increasing availability of different types of sugars and alternative sweeteners. (Here are some great practical tips for those who are cutting back on refined sugar but still want to be a great baker).
So let's take a look at a few of them.