Is sugar-free sugar actually sugar-free?

According to the FDA, a food is considered “sugar-free” if it contains less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving. It is important to consider the actual number of servings in the food, as there may still be a small amount of sugar left, even if it is claimed to be sugar-free. But just because a product says it contains sugar doesn't mean it's good for you. For example, a sugary breakfast cereal may claim to have “less sugar” (reduced from what?) or that is “lightly sweetened” (a meaningless and unregulated term).

This can make health-conscious shoppers think it's a better option. By offering the sweet taste without calories, artificial sweeteners appear to be an answer for effective weight loss. An average 12-ounce can of sugar-sweetened soda provides about 150 calories, mostly from sugar. Same amount of diet soda, zero calories.

The choice seems obvious. FDA guidelines require that a food must contain less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving to label it as sugar-free. This includes natural forms of sugar and any ingredients that contain sugar. Technically, the food product does not have to be completely sugar-free, as long as it meets the per-serving requirement.

While half a gram of sugar is quite negligible, keep this fact in mind if you plan to consume several servings of a food. Sugar content statements on a label can help you control your sugar intake, but these statements don't tell the whole story. According to the FDA, the no-added sugar statement can only be used if no sugar or ingredients containing sugar are used during processing. Hello, I suffer from severe migraines and it is impossible for me to find whole pumpkin, etc.

in supermarkets (based in the United Kingdom). The reason I want whole sugar is that aspartamine causes a severe headache and often makes people seriously ill if they drink a lot of us. Like artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols are created synthetically (usually from the sugars themselves).

Shelley Musselman
Shelley Musselman

Avid social media fan. Award-winning coffee specialist. Subtly charming coffee enthusiast. Total bacon fan. Total pizza guru.

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