Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. Jewels is the moderator of Diabetic Connect’s weekly #DCDE Twitter chat, and she and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.

Deregulated by the USDA, genetically-engineered beet sugar is sneaking its way into grocery store items under the labeling "real sugar."

Food manufacturers aren't required to identify their sourcing of sugar or sucrose as cane sugar or beet sugar. I personally want the real story on my foods; call it what it is please. And people with diabetes might be misled by the name "beet sugar," thinking it's more healthy or natural, when in reality it's been genetically modified and has the same super-refined glycemic index as cane sugar.

Why should you care about the source of the sugar in the foods you eat?

  • It can impact your health.
  • Beet sugar is extracted from beets roots which contains more pesticide residues that are known to inhibit beneficial gut bacteria in humans.
  • 95 percent of the sugar beets in the U.S. are genetically modified (the USDA deregulated this process in 2012).
  • 50 percent of white sugar is actually GMO beet sugar in the U.S. - but, companies are not required to label it as such.
  • If a label says "real sugar" you can bet it contains beet sugar.

According to TheHealthyHomeEconomist.com, "the bottom line is that any product you buy that says “sugar” or “sucrose” is almost certainly at least partially, if not completely, GMO beet sugar unless it is certified organic or labeled as 100 percent cane sugar. This means crackers, sodas, sugar packets, "natural" sodas, granola bars and most non-organic, processed foods."

If you are trying to avoid high fructose corn syrup in an ingredient list you may find yourself replacing it with another manufactured product in beet sugar — and there's simply nothing "natural" about it.