Sugar Free Miniature Reese’s

Traduction en français ici – Miniatures au beurre de cacahouète sans sucre ajoute


Here’s a package I saw  at Walgreens today. Sugar Free Miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Marketed for diabetics and people who want a snack but without the calories.

This seemed like every other sugar free scam I see in grocery stores in the US, but this package had some interesting text on the front. The first thing I see is the “NOT A LOW CALORIE FOOD” text right below the sugar free text. Not too surprising, because the food cannot have all nutritional value sucked out of it, right? But then I see below that what really surprised me: “SEE NUTRITIONAL FACTS FOR SATURATED FAT CONTENT”. I had not ever seen this “warning” before. It really surprised me. I tried finding some information for why this was on the package, but I couldn’t find anything. It reminds me of the cancer warnings on a pack of cigarettes. So I flip it over to find that the serving size is 5 pieces (44g, one candy is about the size of a coin) and the amount of saturated fat for 5 pieces is 6g. Now when writing this blog, I thought I’d talk about saturated fat, but I think it’s much more effective to talk about the ingredients, since saturated fat isn’t inherently evil.

Oh, and by the way, the “sugar free” part, is now “sugar alcohol” under the carbohydrates section. They even have a fancy arrow pointing to it.  What’s funny is that 20 grams of sugar alcohol still adds about 70% of the calories as 20 grams of regular sugar, so the consumer is still ingesting about the same amount of calories, except now the sugar is replaced by lactitol and maltitol. Consulting the book of knowledge (Wikipedia): maltitol is a sugar substitute that unfortunately for diabetics, still increases your blood sugar level at the same rate as sugar. So there goes the reason for diabetics to buy this product (which they should just be avoiding sweets in general anyway, not trying to work around it). And trust me, diabetics, you’re not missing anything by not eating this “candy”.

Now onto lactitol, the book of knowledge (Wikipedia) states that this substance is used by doctors as a laxative. There’s even a warning on the package highlighted in yellow: “INDIVIDUALS SENSITIVE TO SUGAR SUBSTITUTES MAY EXPERIENCE A LAXATIVE EFFECT”. Right below that it says that Lactitol and maltitol “generally cause only a small rise in blood glucose levels”. Now, deconstructing this statement, this could mean ANYTHING. Generally? Generally if you consume a small amount you mean? That’s when you get a “small rise in blood glucose levels”? Maltitol has a glycemic index of 52, while sugar has a glycemic index of 60, so how is that doing diabetics any favors?

So let’s go through these ingredients. The first ingredient is “maltitol”. It comes BEFORE “Peanuts”! Wow. Reese’s should call them “Maltitol Cups” instead of “Peanut Butter Cups”. After peanuts is chocolate made with lactitol. But the good stuff comes at the end of the very long ingredient list. Near the end we have “emulsifier”. It doesn’t even say what is used as an emulsifier. In the ingredient list are two other emulsifiers, which are not inherently bad, but then why is there another unknown emulsifier later? Right after that are “Natural and Artificial flavors”, which are very common on US processed foods. Again, completely unknown. Could be anything for all we know. Most of the rest of the ingredients are approved by the FDA and are fine at low quantities, but then again you could search the world your entire life and never find any of these things in nature, so why would you eat them? Most of them are artificial, and we have no real knowledge about what the effects are with prolonged exposure to them.

I guess what you can learn from this is to not buy processed foods, especially ones with warnings all over them. I wouldn’t even consider this food, since half of the content is fake sugar (20 grams of artificial sweetener),  and other artificial ingredients.

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