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We are well into summertime! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and you’re lounging lazily at poolside. But something is missing from this picture-perfect moment. Aah, that’s it – you need a frozen fruity confection to beat the heat and add a little sweetness to those long summer days.
Since you still need to look good in that swimsuit, you’re tempted to buy a juice bar brand that screams “Sugar Free!”
But should you have your sugar-free juice bar and eat it too?
The food sleuths here at eBrandAid.com vote NO! Here’s the skinny: When juice bar manufacturers remove the sugar they have to replace it with something to make up for the loss of sweetness. So when you see “Sugar Free” on your favorite juice bar wrapper you are all but guaranteed that it’s packed with artificial sweeteners and other junk ingredients. And that’s a recipe for the summertime blues!
To help you give frozen junk treats the cold shoulder, we conducted a full-on comparison between Edy’s regular strawberry fruit bars and their sugar-free variety. See for yourself what happens when the natural sugar is removed.
Edy’s Fruit Bars – Strawberry
Cals 80, 0g fat, 20g sugar
INGREDIENTS: Water, Strawberries, Sugar, Carob Bean Gum, Natural Flavors, Guar Gum, Citric Acid, Color (Beet Juice Extract, Tumeric Color), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).
Edy’s Fruit Bars (Variety Pack) No Sugar Added
Cals 30, 0g fat, 2g sugar
INGREDIENTS: Strawberry: Water, Strawberries, Sorbitol, White Grape Juice Concentrate, Strawberry Juice Concentrate, Polydextrose, Maltodextrin, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Natural Flavors, Aspartame, Acesulfame Potassium, Beet Juice Concentrate, Turmeric Color, Vegetable Stabilizers (Guar Gum, Carob Bean Gum) Which Inhibit Ice Crystal Growth. Warnings: Sensitive individuals may experience a laxative effect from excess consumption of these ingredients: Sorbitol & Polydextrose. Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine.
Decoding The Fine Print
Wow! When the sugar was removed the list of ingredients doubled in length!
That’s due to the three artificial sweeteners added – maltodextrin, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium. Plus, the two added sugar alcohols – sorbitol and polydextrose.
Newsflash: Eat the sugar-free variety and you’re only saving about 50 calories. And let’s face it – most things made with artificial sweeteners taste, well, artificial. Yuck!
But wait, there’s more! That epic list of artificial ingredients isn’t the only red flag lurking on the fruit bar wrapper. In small print, you’ll also find the warning: “Sensitive individuals may experience a laxative effect from excess consumption.” Hmm…
The “laxative effect” is triggered by the sugar alcohols that aren’t easily absorbed. Uncomfortable side effects can range from gas to diarrhea. Eek!
Okay, so let’s review. By choosing the “sugar-free” juice pop you trade in what could have been a tasty, refreshing treat for a mere savings of 50 calories. You sacrificed much of the taste and more than tripled your chemical intake. And worse still, instead of enjoying your summer poolside, you might be stuck in the nearest restroom.
When you see that shiny “sugar-free” claim on the front label you want to believe that you’ve grabbed the healthier option. But it just ain’t so. Subjecting your body to all those artificial additives is much riskier than enjoying a little bit of sugar. Plus, the original-recipe version just tastes better. So if you want the perfect summer package, buy the real deal and enjoy every refreshing lick!
Tune in next week when we’ll unveil the Brand Doctor’s list of BestBrands for juice bars, ice cream, and frozen yogurts — because everyone should have a refreshing treat that tastes good too!
Remember, when you’re armed with a little eBrandAid know-how, you’re in control at the grocery store.