5 unpleasant truths about sugar-free chocolate

Eating chocolate without having to worry about teeth and figure: sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? This is exactly what manufacturers of sugar-free chocolates advertise. They are said to be healthier than regular chocolate. They should also help you lose weight. Is that correct? We reveal five facts that you should know about the trend product. Let’s see 5 unpleasant truths about sugar-free chocolate.

Sugar-free chocolate can now be found in almost every major supermarket. Mostly in the free-from department, right next to the lactose-free, gluten-free and vegan range. It is a little more expensive than normal chocolate, but otherwise hardly differs from the original, neither visually nor in terms of consistency.

See also, Some fruits have more sugar likes chocolate

You can’t even taste a big difference when it comes to sweetness. Because, of course, the companies did not simply omit the sugar in the production process, but replaced it with sweeteners – mostly with xylitol, erythritol, maltitol, stevia or a mixture of different sugar substitutes.

As for the other ingredients, sugar-free chocolate is quite similar to the original. And that brings us to point 1:

1. Sugar-free chocolate contains fat, and quite a lot

Chocolate owes its heavenly taste to about half its sugar content and the other half to its considerable fat content: depending on the variety, it is between 40 and 50 grams of fat, mainly saturated – and therefore not exactly healthy – fatty acids. 

It is the same with sugar-free products. They contain as much fat as normal chocolates. So they are not necessarily figure-friendly:

2. Sugar-free chocolate is a calorie bomb

Unlike sugar-free lemonades, sugar-free chocolate is unfortunately not “zero”, ie free of calories . It is not even lower in calories than normal chocolate, at least not clearly: A 100-gram bar from Milka, Ritter Sport or Lindt provides 500 to 600 kilocalories. The calorie content of common sugar-free chocolates is between 470 and 560 kcal per 100 grams. 

This is mainly due to fat, but also to the other ingredients: sugar substitutes such as maltitol and xylitol each provide 240 kilocalories per 100 grams. In addition, chocolate without sugar can shamelessly contain sugar:

3. Chocolate “without sugar” or “without added sugar” is not necessarily sugar-free

If “sugar-free” is on the label, that’s also true. Even 100 percent dark chocolate is usually really sugar-free. But if it says “no added sugar” or “no sugar” on the packaging, it only means that no household sugar is among the ingredients. Sugar can still be in it, namely in the form of

  • Milk sugar ( lactose ) from whole milk powder or
  • Fruit sugar from fruits (e.g. dates, berries, pieces of orange, etc.).

See also, Inflammation-Busting Chocolate Mousse Recipe with Avocado, Coconut Milk and Cacao

The nutritional table shows how much sugar is in total. Usually there is a maximum of 10 to 15 grams per bar – significantly less than in normal chocolate, which easily contains 40 to 50 grams of sugar per bar. However, there  can be no question of low sugar or low carb. This is especially important for diabetics to know. And also with regard to dental health:

4. Brushing your teeth is still a must

Chocolate without sugar is not tooth-friendly. Firstly, it can contain milk sugar and fructose that promote tooth decay. On the other hand, dark chocolate in particular favors discoloration. 

By the way: Certain sugar substitutes are said to be particularly good for the teeth because they prevent tooth decay. Xylitol and erythritol for example. In the 1990s and early 2000s, studies actually provided evidence that these sweeteners inhibit the growth of caries bacteria. 

According to recent studies, this effect is rather small, at least that of xylitol. Erythritol may have at least a slight protective effect against caries.

5. These uncomfortable complaints can occur

As on chewing gum and candy packaging, there is also a warning on sugar-free chocolate: “Can have a laxative effect if consumed excessively .” But unlike the candy or chewing gum orgy, overeating chocolate is by no means an unlikely scenario. In fact, quite a few people tend to overeat chocolate. After how many pieces (or tablets …) do you have to worry about your digestion?

It mainly depends on the sugar substitute with which the chocolate is sweetened. Xylitol or maltitol can cause diarrhea and bloating from just 30 grams per day. There is so much in a 100 gram bar. With erythritol, the intestine usually gets along better: the laxative effect only begins after about 70 grams – i.e. after a little more than two tablets. 

That means: You shouldn’t organize excesses even with sugar-free chocolate. A maximum of half a table a day is a good guide. (Yes, yes, already clear: Then better not at all …!)

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