The following question was submitted by a reader, "My doctor recently diagnosed me with type 2 diabetes. I know it is important to watch my sugar intake. Is sugarless candy really sugarless?"
"Sugar-free" candy usually contains a sweetener other than standard sugar (sucrose). Many contain artificial sweeteners such as Stevia, Splenda, or Equal. Others contain sugar-alcohols such as isomalt, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, or xylitol.
Foods with low- or reduced-calorie sweeteners (such as the ones listed above) may have less calories than foods manufactured with sugar and other caloric sweeteners. The effect that the sugar alcohols have on your blood glucose can vary each time so it is difficult to know how sugar alcohols will affect your levels.
Things to keep in mind with these types of products *Always check the Nutrition Facts on the label. Many food products containing artificial sweeteners and/or sugar alcohols still have a significant amount of carbohydrate, calories and fat, so never consider them a “free food”.
*Also check the fat grams on the label. There is usually more saturated and or trans fat in sugar free baked products to make up for the flavor/texture difference.
*Sugar alcohols may a laxative effect or other unpleasant gastric symptoms in some people. Only consume in small amounts - especially in the case of children.
BOTTOM LINE: Pay attention to the amount of carbohydrate in the food you are eating rather than just the amount of sugar. More importantly - make sure your sources carbohydrates are complex - you are eating lots of fruits (whole) and vegetables (and fiber), and low/non-fat dairy as your main sources of carbohydrates in your diet.