Since we did our blog post about Zooper Doopers, discussion about store-bought ice-blocks has gone a little crazy.
Lots of you have been contacting us asking if the Sugar Free-zies brand is a better alternative given that they’re reasonably priced and readily available in supermarkets.
You know we have pretty strict standards here at Additive-Free Lifestyle in terms of what we would recommend as an additive-free option, but we also subscribe to the #dontstressit motto.
What are Sugar Free-zies made of?
Well if you go by the front of the packet, you will think that there is zero sugar and nothing artificial in them. But we know not to go by the front of the packet. So, let’s break down what is on the back listed on the ingredient panel:
Water, Natural Sweeteners* (Erythritol, Maltitol, Stevia Extract), Citric Acid, Natural Flavours (Cola, Raspberry, Lemonade, Tropical, Lemon-Lime), Apple Extract, Black Carrot Extract, Paprika Extract, Natural Colours (Carthamus)
The three listed in the ingredients breakdown above, Erythritol, Maltitol and Stevia Extract are all natural sweeteners given that they are derived from natural substances such as plants and fruits.
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol and is used as a low-calorie sweetener in lots of low-sugar, sugar-free and carb-free foods. Most commonly, Erythritol is man-made from GMO corn starch which means it is heavily processed. Check out this article from Dr Axe about Erythritol. Is it as bad as refined sugar? Well given that they are both heavily processed, the jury is still out on that one.
Maltitol is also a sugar alcohol found naturally in some fruits and vegetables and used as a low-calorie sweetener in lots of low-sugar, sugar-free and carb-free foods. However, given that it is a carbohydrate, diabetics should exercise caution ingesting it as it has a glycaemic index and will still have an effect on blood glucose. Check out this article regarding Maltitol.
Stevia extract is derived and processed from the Stevia plant. Is around 200 times sweeter than sugar and is used as a low-calorie sweetener in lots of low-sugar, sugar-free and carb-free foods. Organic Stevia is the better option because it is non-GMO and made from organically grown Stevia. For more information on Stevia check out this article from Dr Axe.
Citric Acid is used instead of preservatives to keep the products stable and with a longer shelf life. It’s a commonly used ingredient in processed foods and is a much cleaner option when it comes to artificial additives. We’re ok with this one.
Natural Flavours (Cola, Raspberry, Lemonade, Tropical, Lemon-Lime) are where we are quite unsure. We went straight to Sugar Free-zies for an answer regarding this and we were told:
All of our flavours (raspberry, cola, lemonade, tropical and lime) are all natural and are developed from a range of plants (specifically created to assimilate the flavour they represent)- they are not juices.
We proceeded with caution regarding this because, by their own admission, they’re using plants to replicate the flavours instead of using real fruit juices. When we requested further clarification regarding these flavours and how they are processed (considering they contain zero of the real ingredients, such as a raspberry) the response received was:
Not synthetic- derived from plants.
Based on all this, we cannot give you a definitive answer about whether these natural flavours are good or bad, because we simply don’t have all the facts. Natural flavours is often a term that is used to make a product sound good, but not all natural substances are good for us. A prime example of this is Annatto (160b).
As the company won’t enlighten us with the way these ‘flavours’ are formulated, we simply don’t know what these flavours are derived from so in our experience it’s best to proceed with caution.
Apple Extract, Black Carrot Extract, Paprika Extract, Natural Colours (Carthamus) are all used to give the ice blocks their separate colours.
So, what’s the verdict?
Whilst it is hard to give a definitive thumbs up or thumbs down about these given we don’t have all the facts, one thing we do know for sure is that we feel they are a better option than Zooper Doopers. This doesn’t make them the best choice on the market, however, they’re certainly not the worst.
What’s good about Sugar Free-zies?
They are striving to be a better alternative and are Australian made and owned. They are determined to remove 500 tons of sugar from Australians via their Project 500 initiative.
By their own admission, they have also told us:
We are looking towards using more environmentally friendly packaging in the future…
What’s the best ice-blocks to buy?
We would counter this and say that given it’s so simple to make your own, why wouldn’t you?!
Just puree up some fruit and water and put into reusable ice block pouches and not only do you know exactly what is in it, but you’re reducing plastic wastage too because you’re using reusable pouches.
Or if you want to go a bit fancy, then why not give our Mango Pops recipe a go. It really is simple, promise!
Sounds like a win/win to us.
Jo & Tracey x