Does Sugar-Free Mean Carb-Free?
If you live with diabetes, you know how important diet is to managing blood sugar. Learning more about what’s in your food can help you make healthier choices.
These days, foods come with lots of labels — and many are deceptive. When you’re trying to eat healthy, a package that says “sugar-free” might look attractive. But does “sugar-free” mean “carb-free”? Are these foods a good choice?
Sugar-Free Doesn’t Mean Carb-Free
While sugar-free foods can be part of your diabetes diet, you should think about carbs, too. Just because food is labeled sugar-free doesn’t mean it has no carbs.
If you’re trying to choose between standard products and sugar-free options, look at the food label. If the item labeled sugar-free has a lot fewer carbs, it might be the best choice. If there’s little to no difference in carbs, then pick one based on price or taste.
No Sugar Added Doesn’t Mean Carb-Free
Along with sugar-free products, you’ll often find items that are labeled “no sugar added.” Once again, no sugar added doesn’t mean the food contains no carbs.
The no sugar added label means food doesn’t have high-sugar ingredients — and that sugar isn’t added during packaging or processing. However, it may still contain a lot of carbs. Look carefully at the label and check the total carbs before deciding it’s a good choice for you.
Even Sugar Alcohols Have Calories and Carbs
Sometimes foods contain sugar alcohols, which are often considered a diabetes-friendly ingredient to replace sugar. Remember, they still have calories and carbs.
Common sugar alcohols include mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. They aren’t always low in calories or carbs.
Carbs Matter as Much as Watching Sugar Intake
When trying to make healthy food choices, carbs matter. It’s not just about watching how much sugar you eat. And while all sugars are carbs, not all carbs are sugar. Fiber and starches are carbs, too.
Yes, choosing sugar-free and no sugar added foods can be part of a diabetes-friendly diet. But it’s always a good idea to check the nutrition facts label. That way you know the ingredients in what you’re eating and the total carb content.