Insight of the day: No sugar added, does not mean carbohydrate free!


Disclaimer – I am not here to single out any food brands. I am teaching about reading food labels in general.

What’s the difference? Carbohydrates are large sugar or starch molecules. Sugars are simple molecules in the form of granules or syrup. When the label says “no sugar added” this means sugar in some shape or form of granules or syrups were not added. This does not mean that the food doesn’t contain carbohydrates or sugar naturally.

In the case of frozen yogurt: It says no sugar added, fat-free. Is this true? Yes, it is made with fat-free milk, and does not have sugar (in the form of granules or syrup added to it). Sugar alcohols and artificial sugar have been added which gives the product a sweet flavor, without added sugar or calories.

If you read the label you see there are 18 grams of carbohydrates in ½ cup. How can this be if there is no “sugar” added? There is natural sugar from the fat-free milk. Even though milk is fat-free it still contains carbohydrates and sugar that raise your blood sugar and contribute calories. Both Whole milk and Fat-free milk contain the same amount of carbohydrates. Whole milk contains higher calories, more fat. Fat-free contains lower calories, and no fat.

The important thing here is to look at TOTAL carbohydrates. The total carbohydrates will include all natural, artificial, added sugar and fiber that is in the product. Looking at sugar grams alone can be misleading and does not tell you all the information you need regarding sugar and carbohydrate content.

Still have questions? Email me.


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