> I've been trying to cut my sugar consumption, I'm one
> of the geeks reading the ingredients labels on canned products.
Reading labels is good for you!
> On some items marked "low sugar", it reads like:
> 5 grams sugar, 15 grams sugar alcohol
> What does that mean?
It means sugar "substitutes" such as maltitol, sorbitol, and so forth. Look
at the ingredients. If it ends in "ol" it's probably a sugar alconol.
Labelling of these products is somewhat deceptive. It is allowable to state
"sugar free" or as on yours, low sugar on the label where these ingredients
are used, yet they definitly add to carbohydrate counts. You may even see
claims that it has "low impact" carbs or similar nonsense. It is less carbs,
but sugar free does not mean carb free.
Federal nutritional labelling laws apply only to the "carbohydrates" as
listed on the nutritional panel. All other carb claims are unregulated and
have more to do with marketing than nutrition.
Try this. In the store, pick up two similar candy packages, one regular, one
marked sugar free. Then look at the carbohydrates. The sugar free will be
lower but by no means will it be the low carb candy you might expect. Also
look at the number of pieces you get for a given amount of carbs. You will
get a little more with sugar free but by no means is it neutral or "free"
food. Given that real sugar still tastes better you may as well eat the real
thing, just a little less, and enjoy it more.
Sugar alcohols can be hard to digest and cause distress to many people. Some
people can eat lots of this stuff but I am not one of them. If you're trying
to lose weight, or follow a low carb regimen, eating this stuff with the
presumption that it has no impact can mess up your plan. Fact is some people
metabolize these carbs, and some don't. If you metabolize them, you get an
Here's a comparison, data from the Hershey's website:
Sugar free, 6 pc serving, 34g carbs.
Regular, 4pc serving, 36g carbs.
Not all that much different.
Here's a pretty good explanation of why these products aren't as great as
the claims make them sound, and a debunking of "net carbs/low impact carbs"
And of course the obligatory wiki reference: