No added sugar does NOT mean sugar free (II)

As we explained in our previous article, “No added sugar does NOT mean sugar free”, the statement “no added sugar” is present in products that do have sugar. Moreover, there are products that claim to not have added sugar or sweeteners but do show sugar in their Nutritional Information. We give you some reasons why in the following lines.

Dairy products/Lactose

Lactose is the type of sugar that occurs naturally in milk. Lactose or “milk sugar”, is the disaccharide component in milk, composed of the monosaccharide components glucose and galactose. Despite there are “lactose-free” and “lactose-reduced” milk products at most grocery stores, they are almost identical nutritionally to regular milk products, including sugar.

Why? Because the “lactose-free” products do still have lactose. People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest the lactose because they don't produce the lactase enzyme, which is the one required to break down the lactose and digest it. For manufacturers, it’s neither practical nor really possible to remove lactose from milk. Instead, they react the lactose chemically, altering its composition and converting it into molecules that your digestive system processes easily. To react lactose, manufacturers add small amounts of the enzyme lactase to break down the lactose, so can be easily absorbed by the organism.

Products with Polydextrose

Polydextrose is a synthetic polymer of glucose. Polydextrose is commonly used as a replacement for sugar, starch, and fat in commercial beverages, cakes, candies, dessert mixes, breakfast cereals, gelatins, frozen desserts, puddings, and salad dressings. Polydextrose is frequently used as an ingredient in low-carb, sugar-free, and diabetic cooking recipes. It is also used as a humectant, stabiliser, and thickening agent. Polydextrose does not appear in the nutritional information as sugar, but as dietary fiber.

It contains only 1 kcal per gram and, therefore, is able to help reduce calories. However, polydextrose is not universally well tolerated. Doses as low as 10g cause significantly more intestinal gas and flatulence than even psyllium.


There are many juices that have the label of “No added sugar” but can contain between 60 and 100 grams of sugar per litre (10g of sugar per 100ml). The main ingredient of juices is water and fructose that comes directly from the fruit. As we explained in our article “It does matter where sugar comes from (I)”, the juices leave out a big part of the fiber and keep all the sugar. However, the label “no added sugar” means that it has not been added extra sugar to the finished product. It does not mean that the ingredients that compound that product do not have sugar.

Energy bars

There are many energy bars in the market that claim to not have added sugar but do show sugar in their nutritional information. The reason is that they use dehydrated fruits in their ingredients. Raisins (dried grapes), for example, contain 70g of sugar per 100g. The same amount of sugar can be found in any other dehydrated fruit. When we manipulate the food and dry it, by eliminating all the water, the remaining content of that fruit is mostly sugar. As it happens with juices, although there are some ingredients that contain sugar, the label “no added sugar” can be used because it has not been added sugar to the final product.

Find more information about fructose in our previous articles: