Learn something new every day
More Info... by email
Low-carb chocolate is a type of confectionery that is designed for diabetics and other people whose diets involve a reduced level of carbohydrate intake. A number of different companies manufacture low-carb chocolates, so there are a variety of products available. Some low-carb chocolates make use of sugar alcohols as sweeteners, which can cause an undesirable laxative effect if too much is consumed. Not everyone reacts to sugar alcohols the same way though, and there are also other products that use a variety of different sweeteners. It is also possible to make low-carb chocolate products at home with unsweetened baking chocolate or cocoa powder, which are both naturally low in carbohydrates.
Chocolate is a product that is derived from the beans of the South American cacao tree. These trees have been cultivated for thousands of years, and the cacao bean has had many uses throughout history. Modern usages of cacao typically involve adding different combinations of milk, sugar, and fats to create various chocolate bars and other confectioneries. Since most chocolate recipes call for sugar as a sweetener, they tend to be relatively high in carbohydrate content. That makes chocolates poorly suited for diabetic and low-carb diets, though there are a number of low-carb alternatives.
The main difference between regular chocolates and low-carb chocolates is sugar content, though some recipes alter other ingredients as well. One of the most common sweeteners used in low-carb chocolate is various sugar alcohols, especially maltitol. These sweeteners are not as readily absorbed in the digestive system as sugar, so they tend to not affect blood glucose as much. Sugar alcohol often has a laxative effect though, and this reaction is worse in some people than others. There are a number of other sweeteners that can also be used in low-carb chocolates, some of which are non-nutritive and affect blood glucose levels even less than sugar alcohol.
These confectioneries are available in a number of different forms, including traditional chocolate bars, fancy boxed chocolates, fudge, and virtually every other type of candy that contains chocolate. Dark, sweet, and semi-sweet low-carb chocolates are also typically available, and unsweetened baking chocolate is naturally very low in carbohydrates. Unsweetened baking chocolate has a somewhat bitter taste, but it can be consumed alone just like other low-carb chocolates. It is also possible to make a variety of low-carb chocolate products at home using unsweetened baking chocolate and cocoa, since those products do not contain any sugar, and sweeteners may then be added to taste.
I've found that low-carb chocolates are pretty tasty, and certainly welcome when the sweet tooth starts yowling, or the chocolate beastie starts roaring.
However, people do need to be careful about low-carb chocolates. Some people are very sensitive to malitol, which is often an ingredient in low-carb sweets, and it can have nasty digestive side effects like gas, cramping and diarrhea.
Try eating just one piece first, and then wait a while. If no undesirable symptoms appear, you can try eating two or three pieces to get your sweet fix. If you can eat them, they really do help curb the cravings.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!