Sugar-Free, No Added Sugar and Unsweetened
Nutrition
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All About Sugar Free, No Added Sugar, or Unsweetened

Imagine buying a product with labels that describe the sugar content with phrases such as ‘Sugar free’, ‘No Added Sugar’, or ‘Unsweetened’. All these words sound so similar. Right? Do all these labels mean the same things, or do they have different connotations? 

Sugar free does not necessarily mean zero sugar. There is an underlying difference in all the terms used above. As per the FDA, Sugar-Free is food with less than 0.5 grams of natural or added sugar. ‘No Added Sugar’ means there is no manual addition of sugar in the packaged food. Food labelled ‘Unsweetened’ does not contain added sugar, sugar alcohols, or low calorie sweeteners.

How did these varying nomenclatures come about? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans report (2015-2020) recommended that daily consumption of added sugar not be more than 10%. The report resulted in the origin of product categories like ‘Sugar-Free’, ‘No Added Sugar’, and ‘Unsweetened’. Although the FDA has backed the usage of artificial sweeteners, the health risks they pose continue to be a raging debate among doctors and health experts. Know about fruit for diabetes.

Different Types of Sugars

While most of us know about table sugar (sucrose) and fructose, several other kinds of sugar, like natural and artificial sugar, are used in food processing. If you are a fitness enthusiast, knowing which sugar is going into your bloodstream can remarkably change your diet and health. 

Natural Sugar

As the name suggests, these sugars occur naturally in plant or animal-supplied food. It is the healthiest form of sugar and is usually available as fructose and lactose in fruits and dairy items. Natural sugar is rich in nutrients, vitamins, proteins, minerals, and fibres. Its intake is both delectable and nutritional. Doctors usually recommend healthy sources of fructose such as apples, berries, oranges, and apricots to diabetic patients. 

Also know more about Natural Sweeteners 

Added Sugar

Added Sugar = Processed Food.  

If a product is labelled added sugar, it probably means that granulated sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and maple syrup were used in its processing. Added sugar is used in sweet food items such as soft drinks and baked products. Even seemingly nutrient-rich bread is laced with added sugars to augment the food flavour. Sometimes sugar is added to get the desired texture or help preserve the food, such as in jams and marmalades.

Artificial Sweeteners

It is common to include artificial sweeteners in a wide range of processed foods. Diet cola has it, and so do baked products classified as sugar-free! These foods, often advertised as sugar-free, actually contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose.

Sugar Alcohols

Sugar Alcohols are essentially hybrids of alcohol and sugar molecules. These are used in making ice creams and baking mixes to provide sweet flavour while minimising side effects. They are considered better alternatives to added sugar and are popularly called polyols. Artificial sweeteners can be used alongside added sugar and natural sugar extracts from beet sugar, date sugar, grape sugar, blackstrap molasses, buttered syrup, and castor sugar, among others. Know about is honey good for diabetes?.

Sugar-Free

First things first, sugar-free does not mean zero sugar. It implies the absolute minimum amount of sugar the food product can have. The guidelines of the FDA clearly state that for a food to be 'sugar-free', it has to have less than 0.5 grams of naturally occurring or added sugar per serving. Additives such as sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners are usually not added to sugar-free foods. 

Ice creams, bakery and confectionery items such as pancake syrups, and candies have sugar-free options for people who would not like to fill their sugar dose for a day in one go. Other terms like 'zero sugar', 'free of sugar' and 'no sugar' also stand up to the definition of ‘sugar-free’. 

But here is the catch. Because sugar-free is not devoid of sugar, consuming large quantities of that tub of sugar-free ice cream is only going to add more sugar and calories per serving to your body. 

No Added Sugar

A food labelled as no added sugar means that no added sugar or any of its derivatives were manually added during its processing and packaging. 'No added sugar' is sometimes branded as 'no sugar added' or 'without added sugar'.

But it is not as good as it looks at face value. Do not confuse 'no added sugar' with ‘without sugar'. The food may still be loaded with naturally occurring sugars, artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols. High-fructose corn and malt syrup, honey, and other fructose-based foods also fall under the ‘no added sugar’ category. Your yummy peanut butter and packaged orange juice can be under the category of no added sugar, meaning there is sugar in it, just not manually added. 

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Unsweetened

Unsweetened packaged food products are a relatively better option than the other two. This is because the food is certified to be devoid of any sugar alcohol or artificial sweeteners. You cannot use added sugar to unsweetened foods. 

Wondering if it is sugar-free? No, it still is not. Unsweetened packaged foods such as almond milk or ice tea can have naturally occurring sugar. 

Unsweetened foods are a safer option for fitness enthusiasts and people with diabetes who wish to eliminate the use of artificial sugars and added sugar from their diet. One of the best examples of naturally occurring sugar is Stevia extract from a plant by the same name.

List Of Sugar Free Fruits For Diabetes

People diagnosed with diabetes are required to monitor the amount of sugar in their blood. The food we eat has a direct impact on our blood sugar levels which is why many people with diabetes opt for sugar free foods instead of foods containing sugar. There are many kinds of fruits, some of which have a low sugar content or none at all. The term "sugar free fruits" refers to fruits that do not include any added sugar. The following is a list of fruits that are naturally sugar free and safe to consume for people with diabetes.

Papaya 

There are various health advantages related to papaya fruit as it has a high fiber content and has very low levels of sodium. The low salt level and presence of Lycopene promote heart health and blood flow regulation. Vitamin A, C, and protein are all found in papaya and the sugar-free fruit also protects against many types of cancers.

Cucumber 

Since they have an abundance of potassium and vitamin C, it is recommended that people add cucumbers to salads. Cucumbers have very little carbs and glucose and can be easily had as snacks which is what makes it great for people with diabetes. 

Lemons 

Lemons can be used as a sugar free fruit choice as it includes a lot of vitamin C and antioxidants. It is a fantastic option for making refreshing sugar-free beverages due to its antioxidant content. Lemon juice can be mixed with a glass of water which aids in weight loss. 

Guava

Fruits rich in fiber, including guava, are known to aid people with diabetes. It also contains a lot of antioxidants and eases constipation. Furthermore, it has the lowest glycemic index of any low-sugar fruit (GI).

Watermelons 

Watermelons have a high water and fiber content and they are good for people with diabetes. The fiber present in watermelons balances the sugar content of the fruit and it also has very low calorie sweetener.  

Avocados

Avocados are considered good fruits as they have an extremely low sugar and carb content. They also contain healthy fats and several micronutrients like vitamin A, K and E.

Grapefruits

This low sugar and fat free fruit contains an abundance of Vitamin C, making it a good choice for people with diabetes. 

Kiwi

Kiwi is another Vitamin C rich fruit which is rich in antioxidants and fiber. It promotes heart health and is good for the skin and hair as well. 

Strawberries 

Strawberries or any kind of berries contain a lot of antioxidant properties. They have high fiber and low sugar content and can be had raw or cooked as they have a great natural taste. 

Tomatoes 

Tomatoes are especially good for people with diabetes as they are rich in vitamin A and have antioxidants. They also contain lycopene and have anti-cancer properties which makes them a must have for people with diabetes. 

Cantaloupe 

Cantaloupe is one of the rare fruits that has zero sugar content, making it perfect for people with diabetes. It is rich in fiber and is soft which makes it good for people in old age as well.

List Of Sugar Free Fruit Juices For Diabetes

Among all beverages, fruit juices are a healthier choice especially when it comes to people with diabetes. It is better to eat fruits as a whole but fruit juices are a midway option between tea, coffee and fruits. Sugar free juices are even better for health as they are easy to drink and won’t harm your health. Here is a list of fruit juices that are good for people with diabetes. 

  • Tomato juice : with very low low calorie sweetener and an abundance of vitamins and micronutrients, tomato juices are on top of the list of health sugar free juices. 
  • Apple juice : a super tasty and easy-to-make option, apple juice acts as an electrolyte as it has sugar in it. It has high antioxidant properties as well.
  • Orange juice : Oranges are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, they have a low sugar content and are good for people with diabetes. When consumed with pulp, it will have additional benefits due to the fiber.

List Of Sugar Free Dry Fruits List

Dry fruits, sometimes known simply as dried fruits, are fruits that have been dried out and are known to have unusually high levels of various beneficial nutrients. In addition, diabetics may safely consume them without worry. The following is a list of some of the most common sugar-free dry fruits that, if eaten regularly, may aid with the control and management of diabetes:

Walnut

Assist in avoiding consuming food that isn't essential, and as a result, aid in the management of weight reduction. In addition, alpha-lipoic acid assists in the management of diabetes and may help decrease inflammation.

Almonds

Assist in the maintenance of the digestive system as well as the levels of blood pressure.

Pistachios

Pistachios, which are considered a high-power superfood, may be eaten as a snack in between meals.

Berries

These may become a delicious dessert option for diabetes people when combined with fat-free or low-fat yogurt.

Apricots

Apricots are a natural way to enhance the flavor of dishes without adding any added sugar.

Also read about benefits of dates for diabetes

Bottomline

By itself, sugar consumption is neither problematic nor unhealthy. Its intake is worrying when consumed in excess. Most of the time, this overdose is because of a lack of knowledge of sugar portions defined by the different labels used by the manufacturers.  These categorizations are for manufacturers, and consumers should choose products based on what has gone into them rather than what the labels say.  Between ‘Sugar-Free’, ‘No Added Sugar’, and ‘Unsweetened’, the latter is the best option for those wanting to avoid processed sugar and artificial sweeteners. 

It is important to remember that none of these products is without sugar. Even unsweetened foods have natural sugar. So, why not go for the real thing instead? Book an appointment with us to effectively manage sugar in your diet. Also know about the list of dry fruits for diabetics to eat.

FAQs

What happens if I stop eating sugar?

Eliminating sugar from your diet is not the right way to reduce risks but having a regulated amount of sugars and eliminating it slowly over time is the right way. If you stop consuming sugar there are some benefits that you will notice like glowing skin, reduced risk of diabetes-related disorders, good mental health, slow aging, quality sleep, weight loss, improved condition of liver and heart, good dental health, etc.  

Is honey better than sugar?

Honey is one of the best substitutes for sugar. Intake of sugar spikes up your blood sugar level instantaneously but switching to honey won’t have such consequences as honey has a comparatively lower glycemic index than sugar. However, it is important to have controlled quantities of honey as consuming too much of it thinking that it is a good sugar substitute can lead to increased blood levels. Therefore, having honey instead of sugar is preferable underlined that it's taken in the right quantities. 

Is coconut sugar better for you?

Though coconut sugar contains a few nutrients it is any time better than refined sugar but you cannot neglect the fact that coconut sugar is primarily a sweetener. Coconut sugar is a healthier option but eventually, it belongs to the category of sugar alternatives. The bottom line is that switching to coconut sugar is a better option than consuming sugar mainly due to its low glycemic levels.

References

  • https://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/smart-choices/which-type-of-sugar-is-best
  • https://www.allrecipes.com/article/what-is-the-difference-between-sugar-free-no-sugar-added-and-unsweetened/
  • https://www.breathewellbeing.in/blog/sugar-free-no-added-sugar-or-unsweetened

Disclaimer

This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.