How can a “sugar free” product still effect your blood sugar? Artificial sweeteners like sucralose, saccharin, and aspartame don’t contain carbohydrates or calories, so they won’t impact blood sugar levels. However, The New York Times reports, these sugar substitutes are accompanied by sugar alcohols in many foods labeled sugar free.
Not quite a sugar or an alcohol, sugar alcohols have a molecular structure that looks like a cross between the two. Food manufacturers add them to “sugar free” products like chocolate, hard candy, cookies, and chewing gum. Sugar alcohols do have fewer calories than normal sugar, but still have some impact on blood sugar.
For those who need to watch their blood sugar, reading the nutrition label is all the more important. “One way to account for them is to count half the grams of sugar alcohol in a product as carbohydrates, since roughly half of the sugar alcohol content is actually digested. You can identify sugar alcohols in an ingredient list by looking for words that end in “-ol,” like sorbitol, maltitol and xylitol. And in foods labeled “sugar free” or “no added sugar,” the precise sugar alcohol count must be listed separately under the nutritional information.”