What type of sugar is free sugar?

This study used the WHO definition of free sugars, that is, all monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods and beverages during processing, in addition to the natural sugars in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. 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. In addition, sugar-free products include natural and added sugars, but do not include artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols.

Check the list of ingredients for artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, which are used to improve flavor in the absence of sugar. Common sources of sugar-free products on food labels include chewing gum, pancake syrup, fruit preserves, candies, and more. Sugar substitutes are sweeteners used instead of common table sugar (sucrose). Artificial sweeteners are just one type of sugar substitute.

While natural sugar in fruits and vegetables is part of a healthy diet, added sugar in soft drinks and processed foods should be consumed at a minimum. Erythritol is also a sweetened alcohol sweetener, but unlike the others just mentioned, it has less than 1 calorie per gram, notes the International Food Information Council Foundation, and has no major effect on blood sugar levels, according to the American Diabetes Association. While a diet that is too high in sugar of any type can increase the risk of tooth decay, eating too many added sugars can increase the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The FDA allows a food label to say “no added sugar if” it does not contain added sugars during processing or packaging, including ingredients that contain sugar, such as juice or dried fruit.

If you want to avoid artificial sugars or reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet, sugar-free foods are a good choice. If you're trying to reduce sugar and calories from your diet, you may be turning to artificial sweeteners or other sugar substitutes. The harmful health effects associated with sugar consumption are due to the high amount of added sugar in the typical Western diet. There are many sugar substitutes to choose from, but not all of them are calorie-free and vary in their impact on blood sugar.

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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