How Do I Choose the Best Sugar-Free Snacks?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus
Plain yogurt is a healthy, sugar-free snack.
Plain yogurt is a healthy, sugar-free snack.

The best sugar-free snacks are nutritious as well as tasty. If you're looking for more of an occasional treat though, sugar-free products with artificial sweeteners can be a good substitute for sugary cookies, cakes and chocolates. If you're a diabetic, you'll have to watch natural sources of sugar such as fruit and some dairy products as well as other high-carbohydrate foods including grains. If you're choosing the best sugar-free snacks for weight loss, be sure to also consider the fat content.

Having a cup of green tea with a sugar-free snack makes the meal more enjoyable.
Having a cup of green tea with a sugar-free snack makes the meal more enjoyable.

For daily snacks, try to choose sugar-free foods that also offer nutrition. For instance, peanut butter spread on whole grain crackers can be a sugar-free snack that provides a source of protein and fiber. It's important to read peanut butter ingredient labels carefully for a non-sugar version though, as many brands do add sugar. An apple and a piece of cheese has no refined sugar plus many vitamins and calcium. Raw vegetables and a plain yogurt-based dip make a healthy, nutritious snack.

Apples are a healthy alternative to sugary snacks.
Apples are a healthy alternative to sugary snacks.

For snacks that are treats to replace sugary versions, it's a good idea to try smaller packages or servings of these before buying larger ones. Some sugar-free snacks such as chocolate, cookies, candy, pudding, ice cream and cake taste delicious and much like their sugary counterparts, while other products may have an unpleasant aftertaste. Once you try different brands to find non-sugar snacks you like, watch for these items to go on sale so you can have them on hand.

Crackers are a sugar-free snack.
Crackers are a sugar-free snack.

The amount of sugar-free foods you eat that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners such as maltitol should be limited because they can have a laxative effect. Some artificial sweeteners found in sugar-free snacks including chocolates, cake, cookies and hard candy can upset the digestive system. Consuming only small amounts of these is best until you know how they affect your system. Be sure to calculate the fat content of sugar-free cookies, chocolate and cakes, especially as part of your diet. Hard candy typically doesn't contain fat for most varieties.

Air popped popcorn is sugar free and contains a small amount of protein and fiber.
Air popped popcorn is sugar free and contains a small amount of protein and fiber.

When looking for snacks without refined sugars, always check the labels. For example, many canned fruits are packed in heavy syrup, which means they contain a lot of sugar. Water or juice-packed canned fruits are better choices for refined sugar-free snacks. Unsweetened applesauce can be another great snack choice, plus it may be used in baking to reduce the amount of sugar and fat needed. Adding cinnamon to applesauce for snacking or baking can add a pleasant sweet taste without sugar.

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Discussion Comments

Ana1234

@irontoenail - Saturated fat is generally accepted as not that dangerous these days. It's definitely sugar, particularly corn syrup, that is the greater danger.

They really hide it in a lot of different kinds of processed food. I actually think the best thing is to try not to eat processed food at all.

irontoenail

@bythewell - It's tough to give people advice on this kind of thing. Because it's a very good goal to try and cut out processed sugar from your diet. It's almost always pointless eating processed sugar since it has very little nutritional value on its own and it can actually harm you if you eat too much of it in your life.

But the solution isn't to just turn to sugar-free processed foods, because those can have even worse ingredients in them. A lot of them will contain trans fats, which are so dangerous they've been banned in some places now. Or they might have quite a lot of saturated fat, because sugar and fat are the two quickest ways to make food taste good.

bythewell

Remember that certain naturally sweet foods will count as being sugar if you are trying to avoid raising your blood sugar levels. Most diabetics will already know this from research, but I had a friend who was convinced that she was keeping her blood sugar level by eating bananas as snacks rather than something like a yogurt. She didn't realize that (depending on the type of yogurt) bananas were actually more likely to raise her blood sugar levels as they are all carbs and sugars, with little protein or fiber or fat to slow down digestion.

It does depend on what you want to achieve. If you just want to cut out all processed sugar, then all you really have to do is read ingredient boxes and make sure you know all the names companies might use to disguise it. If you are trying to achieve a particular goal, then you need to make sure you understand how that will work.

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    • Plain yogurt is a healthy, sugar-free snack.
      By: Colinda McKie
      Plain yogurt is a healthy, sugar-free snack.
    • Having a cup of green tea with a sugar-free snack makes the meal more enjoyable.
      By: Liv Friis-larsen
      Having a cup of green tea with a sugar-free snack makes the meal more enjoyable.
    • Apples are a healthy alternative to sugary snacks.
      By: kalumander
      Apples are a healthy alternative to sugary snacks.
    • Crackers are a sugar-free snack.
      By: suksao
      Crackers are a sugar-free snack.
    • Air popped popcorn is sugar free and contains a small amount of protein and fiber.
      By: Przemyslaw Sitek
      Air popped popcorn is sugar free and contains a small amount of protein and fiber.
    • Reading labels carefully can help to identify hidden sugars in many products.
      By: Kadmy
      Reading labels carefully can help to identify hidden sugars in many products.
    • Unsweetened applesauce is a nutritious sugar-free snack.
      By: mitrs3
      Unsweetened applesauce is a nutritious sugar-free snack.