How Do I Choose the Best Sugar-Free Sauces?

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  • Written By: A.M. Boyle
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2019
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When choosing the best sugar-free sauces, it is important to consider not only taste but also the reason you are opting for a sugar-free alternative. If your reason for wanting a sugar-free sauce is to control your blood sugar levels, your choice might be different than if your goal is to find a sauce with reduced calories. Not all sugar-free sauces are low in calories and not all low-calorie sauces are sugar free. The taste of the sauce will often vary depending upon what type of substitute is used to sweeten it, and preferences as to taste are very subjective.

With regard to sugar-free foods, the term sugar refers to either refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, and even honey or evaporated cane sugar. This means that sugar-free sauces are ones that generally contain less than 0.5 grams of those types of sugar per serving. The best tasting sugar-free sauces are those that use some type of sugar substitute to pump up the flavor. Depending upon the type of sugar substitute used, however, the best-tasting sauce might not be the best sugar-free sauce for your needs.


Sugar substitutes are basically divided into two categories, namely, artificial sweeteners and polyols. Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralaose, and stevia are man-made chemical compounds that mimic the taste of sugar. More commonly known by brand names such as NutraSweet and Splenda, these types of sweeteners contain no significant calories and therefore sweeten food without adding calories. As a result, if you are seeking sugar-free sauces because you are looking for lower calorie content, then sauces made with artificial sweeteners might be your best choice. Keep in mind, though, that certain artificial sweeteners might carry other health risks if consumed in excess.

Polyols are also known as sugar alcohols even though they are not made of sugar or alcohol. These sweeteners, such as sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol, are natural carbohydrate compounds. They do have calories, although less than regular sugar. These types of sweeteners generally have more palatable flavors, closer to that of regular sugar, than their artificial cousins. If you are looking for sugar-free sauces to control your blood sugar levels, such as for diabetes management, and are not too worried about calorie content, then you might find sauces made with these better-tasting sweeteners to be the best choice.

As an additional consideration, if your goal in choosing a sugar-free sauce is to control your blood sugar, beware of sauces that claim to be "low calorie" or whose label says "no sugar added." These terms do not necessarily mean that the sauce is sugar free. Low-calorie sauces might have reduced calories, but they still may contain sugar. Also, the claim of "no sugar added" only mean that no additional sugar is added during processing, but the sauce itself, especially if it is a sweet or fruity sauce, might already have a generous amount of natural sugar.

Keep in mind also that, many times, manufacturers of sugar-free sauces will use increased amounts of sodium, or salt, to boost the flavor. If you are prone to high blood pressure or are watching your sodium intake for other reasons, be sure to check for sodium content before choosing your sugar-free sauce. Again, the best-tasting sauce may not be the best choice for you, depending upon your individual circumstances.


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