According to the Los Angeles Times, the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar every day. This is higher than what the USDA recommends, even for people with a diet low in fat, and so knowledge of sugar-free foods isn’t just for diabetics or others with an allergy or sensitivity to sugar.
No Refined Sugar
The phrase “sugar-free” sometimes means a lack of refined sugar. These sugar-free foods have natural sugars in the form of complex carbohydrates but no added sweeteners. This is because they are raw and unprocessed: fruits, vegetables and nuts are sugar-free in this sense. Cauliflower, spinach and almost all nuts have a higher amount of protein than carbohydrates per serving.
“Sugar-free” also applies to foods that have no carbohydrates at all, and therefore no sugars, either natural or artificial. Raw meat contains fat and protein without carbohydrates, as do eggs, fish and shellfish, so you can consume them without increasing your sugar intake. However, the USDA advises that 45 to 65 percent of your daily caloric intake should come from carbohydrates.
Companies also market processed foods made with artificial sweeteners as “sugar-free.” Hershey’s, for example, has created artificially sweetened, sugar-free versions of its chocolate bars. Although these foods are technically sugar-free, health experts are hesitant to claim that they are healthy: as Dr. Mark Urman, medical director of the Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, points out, these sugar-free foods typically contain many refined carbohydrates that studies have linked to heart problems.
References and ResourcesLon Angeles Times: Foods that Cut Sugar Aren't Necessarily a Sweet Choice
Our Civilisation: Non-Carbohydrate and Low Carbohydrate Foods
USDA: 2005 Dietary Guidelines