We’ve sorted out what things like “light” and “low calorie” mean. But what about sugar? You see labels that say “sugar free” and “no added sugar” everywhere. Does that really mean that these products are more “natural” or good for you than others? Let’s dig in…
Even though this marmalade is sugar free, it states right here on the front label that is is sweetened with Splenda.
In addition to being sugar free (actually, because it is sugar free), it has 80% fewer calories compared to regular marmalade.
And here’s the rest of that math that is required by the FDA to include on the label.
The nutritional profile of sugar free marmalade is nothing too exciting.
But, remember when we said that a “zero calorie food” can still have up to 5 calories per serving? Turns out “sugar free” has a similar loophole. Sugar free foods can have up to 0.5 grams of sugar per serving. And this one does.
I do appreciate that this label has the stars in the ingredient list that tell you which of these are not in regular marmalade. Most labels do not include this disclaimer, and it can be hard to sort out what is different between the “regular” and “modified” varieties.
No sugar added
“No sugar added” to this ice cream. So in order to keep a similar sweet flavor, it has been sweetened with Splenda.
This is a different variety of the ice cream we looked at last time. This also has 1/3 fewer calories and 1/2 the fat as regular ice cream.
One big difference is in the nutrition labels. The “no sugar added” version has a total of 16 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of sugar alcohols per serving (blue label). The other version has a total of 17 grams of carbohydrates per serving and no sugar alcohols (yellow label).
No sugar added, light ice cream
Light ice cream
What about the ingredients? There is sucralose (Splenda) listed as an ingredient of the “chocolaty chunks” and as a separate ingredient for the ice cream. And the disclaimer that “sensitive individuals may experience a laxative effect from excess consumption of this ingredient.” I will admit, I am not sure what “excess consumption” means, or who would be sensitive. But I’ll look into it for you.
So what’s the point of all of this? Am I trying to scare you away from sugar free, low calorie foods? Absolutely not. But I do want to help you understand what some of these labels mean. When something is taken out of a food (like calories, sugar, or fat), it can change the taste or texture of the food. So other things (like artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols) are added back to make it taste more like the original.
The bottom line? Read your labels. And if there’s something you’re unsure of, do a little research. Or ask me and I’ll research it for you.