A sweet tooth is one of the biggest struggles I see with people who are trying to manage their eating habits. Dark chocolate carries several health benefits but some people may consider it a trade-off when there is a lot of sugar also in the product . Now, I typically steer well clear of anything labeled “sugar-free” because I find artificial sweeteners like way too sweet and they taste different to me, but I picked this up and saw that it contained none so I figured I would give it a try to see if it could be an alternative for chocolate lovers.
How is it sugar-free?
Rather than sweetening this product with sugar, Simply Natural Foods sweetens the chocolate bar with sugar alcohols, maltitol specifically. Sugar alcohols provide fewer calories than sugar because they cannot be easily absorbed by your body. Maltitol in particular contains about half the calories of sugar but has a higher glycemic index than other sugar alternatives but a lower GI than sugar. Therefore, it’s important not to overeat foods containing sugar alcohols and diabetics may want to consult with their physician on such products. Another factor that may persuade you to consume sugar alcohols in moderation is that they very often can have a laxative effect due to their poor absorption rate. In fact, the label on these chocolate bars contains an advisory to that effect. Yum! Am I right, guys?
How Do Simply Lite Bars Compare to Others?
I was curious about just how much of a difference there was between this and other comparable bars. So I put together a chart of other bars with similar cacao proportions and calculated each out to a 25 gram serving.
As you can see, Simply Lite indeed contains slightly fewer calories but slightly more carbohydrates than other bars. The product label includes a net carb calculation that subtracts both the grams of fiber (3) and the carbs from the maltitol (11) from the total carb count, leaving 1 g of net carbs. It states that they subtract maltitol’s carbs from the total because “its conversion requires little or no insulin and does not cause an appreciable increase in serum glucose levels”. As stated above, it is true that maltitol bears a significantly lower glycemic index than sugar, but it is important for diabetics to take into account their total carbohydrate consumption. However, for those watching carbs as part of their diet (keto, South Beach, what-have-you), the net carb count is helpful.
Flavor and Texture
I didn’t dislike the flavor of the Simply Lite bar but it was obviously different from a sugar-sweetened bar. Ever so slightly less sweet perhaps? Hard to put my finger on but my thought was “meh”. It doesn’t have a chemically taste though, which is nice. The texture is on the drier, more crumbly side than other bars. It reminded me a little bit of the texture of Mexican stone ground chocolate…but not as good. It lacks that creamy, satisfying mouth feel that other chocolates have but part of that is due to the cacao concentration – the more cacao, the less creamy and the more bitter.
One of the ingredients listed on this product is inulin, a vegetable fiber that is commonly added to processed foods to increase their fiber content. The higher fiber content inulin adds to this bar lowers the net carbs and glycemic impact of the food. Adding prebiotic fiber like this is something we very commonly see with “healthified” foods, such as Halo Top ice cream. One thing to note about this ingredient is that overeating it can also cause some gastrointestinal upset, including gas, bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea.
While this bar may be an alternative for those with a sweet tooth who are looking to cut down their sugar intake, there are several trade-offs made with Simply Lite’s chocolate bar. With two ingredients known to cause gastrointestinal upset when consumed too much, it’s important to limit your consumption of this product, unless you don’t mind some extra time in the bathroom. The taste and texture are definitely not the same as “the real thing” so some may not be big fans of this alternative. The fact is that there is nothing wrong with occasionally indulging in chocolate and there’s no need to feel guilty about it or the need to healthify it. My final verdict on this is that I would rather buy regular dark chocolate.
Please note that I am in no affiliated with this brand or product and this blog post is provided solely for informational purposes.