April 15, 2024

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Can you eat sugar-free food or beverage without restriction?

Can you eat sugar-free food or beverage without restriction?


Can you eat sugar-free food or beverage without restriction?  As a kind of food with its own health aura, sugar-free food has become more and more accepted by the people. In addition to diabetic patients and people with high blood sugar, many healthy people have begun to consciously reduce their sugar intake and choose low-sugar foods or sugar-free foods for health purposes. So, which foods are sugar-free, and is “sugar-free” really sugar-free?

Can you eat sugar-free food or beverage without restriction?



Not completely sugar-free

The concept of sugar-free food originated in foreign markets. The so-called sugar-free can be understood as replacing simple sugars (sucrose, fructose, maltose, etc.) that are likely to cause tooth decay, obesity, and high blood sugar with polysaccharide alcohols such as xylitol and functional oligosaccharides that are not easily absorbed by the body. Its function is to make the food have the taste of sugar without the high energy of simple sugar, which is more beneficial to health.

After sugar-free food entered the domestic market, it soon gained a place. Its popularity is actually not difficult to understand. With the improvement of living standards, the number of obese patients and diabetic patients worldwide is increasing day by day, and they have a rigid need for sugar-free food. More and more people believe that choosing sugar-free foods for themselves, their family and friends is healthier.

For those who want to eat sweets, lose weight, and maintain health, a series of foods such as “sugar-free biscuits”, “sugar-free cakes”, “sugar-free yogurt” and “sugar-free milk tea” are indeed a good choice. But before choosing, we should not take it for granted, the “sugar-free” on the product packaging may not be the “sugar-free” you imagined.

According to international practice, sugar-free food refers to sweet food that does not contain sugar, that is, does not contain sucrose (cane sugar and beet sugar) and starch sugar (glucose, maltose, and fructose), and requires the use of sugar substitutes with sugar properties. According to some countries’s national standard “General Rules for the Labeling of Prepackaged Foods for Special Dietary Uses”, sugar-free foods require that the sugar content of solid or liquid foods is not more than 0.5 grams per 100 grams or 100 milliliters. It is impossible to completely remove sugar in food. Therefore, “sugar-free” in sugar-free food only means that the sugar content does not exceed the prescribed standard.


The taste can also be very sweet

Under normal circumstances, sugar-free products will contain sugar alcohols, oligosaccharides, high-intensity sweeteners and other sweeteners, which have a sweet taste, but will not affect blood sugar, which can reduce the calorie intake of consumers.

Sweetener is a food additive that can impart sweetness to food. Sweeteners can be divided into nutritional sweeteners and non-nutritive sweeteners according to their nutritional value; according to their sweetness, they can be divided into low-sweetness sweeteners and high-sweetness sweeteners; according to their source, they can be divided into natural sweeteners And synthetic sweeteners.

Specifically, the sweeteners used in food mainly fall into the following three categories.


Sugar Alcohol


Sugar alcohol is a kind of polyalcohol, which is produced by hydrogenation and reduction of sugar. It is not sugar but has certain sugar properties. Common sugar alcohols are xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, erythritol, mannitol, lactitol, isomalt, etc., and its sweetness is slightly lower than that of sucrose. As a nutritious food ingredient, it has a certain viscosity, hygroscopicity, and heat resistance, and the heat generated is lower than that of sucrose, between 2-3kcal/g, so it is called a nutritious sweetener.

Sugar alcohol is not affected by microorganisms in the oral cavity and does not produce acid, so it will not cause dental caries; sugar alcohol is not a sugar, and is generally not controlled by insulin during metabolism, and has no effect on the rise of blood sugar level; it can provide a certain amount of calories for diabetic patients, It is beneficial to diabetics or ordinary consumers, so it is widely used in sugar-free foods.

Functional oligosaccharides


Functional oligosaccharides refer to oligosaccharides polymerized by 2-10 glycosidic bonds, including xylo-oligosaccharides, isomalt-oligosaccharides, inulin (long-chain fructans), fructo-oligosaccharides, and galacto-oligosaccharides. , Soy oligosaccharides, etc. It has certain sugar characteristics such as sweetness, viscosity and water solubility. The sweetness is 40%-60% of that of sucrose, and the sweetness is soft and natural. It can be used as a nutritional supplement for baby milk powder and other foods or as a substitute for sucrose.

Since the human body does not have an enzyme system for decomposing and digesting oligosaccharides, functional oligosaccharides cannot be degraded by human gastric acid and gastric enzymes, are not absorbed by the small intestine, and can directly enter the large intestine, providing low or no energy value. Functional oligosaccharides can promote intestinal peristalsis, inhibit harmful bacteria, promote the reproduction of probiotics, and moisturize the intestines; it cannot be used by human oral spoilage bacteria; it is not dependent on insulin and does not increase blood sugar, so it is widely used in food, Health care products, beverages, medicine, feed additives and other fields.


High-intensity sweetener


Its sweetness is 30-600 times that of sucrose, so it is called a high-strength sweetener. In the case of the same sweetness, it generates negligible heat, so it is called a non-nutritive sweetener. It is divided into natural and synthetic. Naturally extracted sweeteners currently mainly include stevia extract, Luo Han Guo extract and thaumatin, etc.; artificially synthesized sweeteners commonly include saccharin, acesulfame K, aspartame, sucralose and so on.

High-intensity sweeteners have the advantages of high sweetness, low calories, not easy to caries, mostly not involved in the metabolic process, and no effect on blood sugar. They are widely used in food additives, especially in anti-caries foods, as well as diabetic patients and obesity Patients and other special consumer groups in the food.

It should be noted that although sugar alcohols and high-strength sweeteners are both “sugar substitutes”, only foods made with sugar alcohols can be called “sugar-free foods.” Foods prepared solely with high-density sweeteners such as saccharin, aspartame, and acesulfame K are generally called non-calorie foods or low-calorie foods.

Let’s take Coke Zero as an example to talk about this conceptual problem. The ingredient list of a commercially available brand of cola is: water, fructose syrup, white sugar, food additives (carbon dioxide, caramel color, phosphoric acid, caffeine, food flavor); the ingredient list of zero-degree cola is: water, food additives (carbon dioxide, Caramel color, phosphoric acid, caffeine, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, sodium benzoate, sodium citrate), flavors. It can be seen that the difference between the two is that the fructose syrup and white sugar in Coke Zero are removed, and the sweetness is provided by sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame K, and sucralose (sucralose). Therefore, Coke Zero can be called a non-calorie beverage, but it is generally not called a sugar-free beverage.


Are sweeteners safe for the human body?

Any food additive must undergo a strict safety assessment before being approved for use. some countries’s national food safety standard food additive use standard (GB 2760-2014) clearly stipulates the allowed sweetener varieties, the scope of use and the maximum amount of use. Therefore, foods with added sweeteners produced by regular manufacturers can be eaten with confidence. However, the edible safety of some high-strength sweeteners, such as saccharin, cyclamate, stevia, etc., is still controversial internationally, and it is recommended to minimize the intake.

Recently, the popular “0-calorie sugar” foods are actually sweeteners such as erythritol and steviol glycosides added. According to national standards, the content of fat and sugar per 100ml is less than or equal to 0.5g, it can be marked as “zero fat” and “zero sugar”, and the energy per 100ml of beverage is less than or equal to 17 kJ (4 calories). Zero card”. So even if it is a “0 sugar, 0 fat, 0 calorie” beverage, it does not mean that there is no sugar and no calories.

In short, any sweetener should be consumed in moderation to prevent excessive intake. Large intake of sweeteners may cause changes in the structure and composition of the human intestinal flora, causing abdominal distension or diarrhea. Adults have better immunity and there is no problem. For young children whose organs have not yet fully developed, sweetened beverages cannot be drunk, otherwise it is likely to cause severe diarrhea. In addition, studies have found that long-term consumption of large amounts of food containing sweeteners can cause mice to reduce glucose tolerance and increase blood sugar. In the long run, insulin resistance may occur, and even diabetes and obesity may occur.

In addition, it is necessary to focus on the high-strength sweetener “Aspartame”. National standards require that foods with aspartame added must be marked “Aspartame (containing phenylalanine)” in the ingredient list. This is because there is a genetic disease in patients-patients with phenylketonuria who are born with a lack of an enzyme, which leads to phenylalanine metabolism disorders. Aspartame can be decomposed into phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol under the action of human gastrointestinal enzymes. Therefore, patients with phenylketonuria are particularly reminded that because they cannot metabolize phenylalanine, they should never eat foods that contain aspartame.


How to choose sugar-free food?

The key to sugar-free food is not to add sucrose. But consumers can’t just take it at will just because it is marked as “sugar-free”. After some sugar-free foods are consumed, there are still problems such as elevated blood sugar and high calories.

For example, the raw material of sugar-free biscuits and sugar-free cakes is starch, and milk, eggs and a lot of fat are added in the production process. After human consumption, the starch and oil in it will gradually be metabolized and converted into small molecules of glucose, and blood sugar will naturally rise accordingly. In addition, the “sugar-free” on the milk tea cup can only mean that it has no additional sugar, but the various ingredients that make up the milk tea itself contain sugar.

Can you eat sugar-free food or beverage without restriction?

So, how to choose sugar-free food?

1. Choose sugar-free foods produced by regular manufacturers. Relatively speaking, regular manufacturers have standardized production and feed materials.

2. Look at the ingredient list, not only to see whether there is sucrose content, but also to consider whether the food itself contains sugar. As mentioned earlier, sugar-free pastries are made of starch, and starch is essentially sugar, which can be broken down into glucose in the human body.

3. Although some foods are marked with “no sucrose”, the ingredient list is marked with white sugar or glucose. In fact, sucrose and white granulated sugar are the same thing, but they are called differently. Others are marked with “dextrin”, “maltose”, “starch syrup” and “corn syrup”, all of which are sugars. Everyone should pay attention to the identification, and don’t be misled by the word games of the business.

In short, when choosing sugar-free food, you must pay attention to the content indicated on the food label and figure out the meaning of the nutritional indicators. Preference is given to natural sugar substitutes with added sugar alcohols and foods with functional oligosaccharides, and as few as possible to choose products containing sweeteners such as “saccharin”, “cyclamate”, and “steviose”.


What is sugar?

In life, we will encounter a variety of sugar, mainly including the following 5 types.


  • “Monosaccharides” include glucose, fructose, galactose, etc., which can be directly digested and absorbed by the body, and blood sugar rises particularly fast. Common foods containing simple sugars are honey, milk, beets and so on.


  • “Disaccharides” include sucrose, maltose, lactose, etc., which need to be broken down into monosaccharides in the human body before being absorbed by the body, and the rate of blood sugar rise is slightly slower than that of monosaccharides. Common foods containing disaccharides include white sugar, brown sugar, toffee, cakes, wheat, glutinous rice and so on.


  • “Oligosaccharides” are also called “oligosaccharides”, including ordinary oligosaccharides and functional oligosaccharides. Common foods containing oligosaccharides are garlic, onions, soybeans and so on.


  • “Polysaccharides” are polymeric carbohydrates composed of more than 10 monosaccharides, such as starch and cellulose. Common foods containing polysaccharides include cereals, potatoes, rice, noodles and so on.


  • “Sugar substitutes” are mainly divided into sugar alcohols and high-strength sweeteners, which are widely used as food additives.



(source:internet, reference only)

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