Sweeteners and Diabetes

Nutrition Facts and Food Labels

What to Check in the Nutrition Facts

You can also use the Nutrition Facts Label on foods to guide you. The first thing to check is the serving size. The second is the total carbohydrate. The total carbohydrate tells you how much carbohydrate is in one serving of the food.

What else can I learn from food labels?

Foods labeled as sugar-free, no sugar added, reduced sugar, and dietetic still contain carbohydrate. To check the amount of sugars (listed as "Sugars" under "Total Carbohydrate") in the Nutrition Facts Label, keep in mind that it includes both added sugars and naturally occurring sugars, such as the natural sugar in raisins. It is more helpful to check the total carbohydrate because it gives a better picture of all the carbohydrate in a single food.

Reduced Calorie Sweeteners - Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols are one type of reduced-calorie sweetener and are used in sugar-free candies, chewing gum, and desserts. They provide about half the calories of sugars and other carbohydrates. Isomalt, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol are examples of sugar alcohols. Even though they are called sugar alcohols, they do not contain alcohol. Sometimes sugar alcohols can cause diarrhea, especially in children. Many people think that foods with sugar alcohols are "free foods." This is not true!

Tips for Carb Counting and Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols don't raise blood glucose as much as the same amount of other carbohydrates. To figure out the amount of other carbohydrate you should count for a food with sugar alcohols, follow these tips:

  • Subtract half of the sugar alcohol grams from the total carbohydrate
  • Count the remaining grams

For Example:

Serving Size: 1 bar

Total carbohydrate 15 grams - Sugar alcohol 6 grams

One bar counts as 12 grams carbohydrate (15 - 3 = 12)