Having developed a pre-diabetic condition that can tip over into full-blown adult-onset diabetes faster than you can say "high fructose corn syrup," I have developed an interest in the products marketed to diabetics. I actually have several relatives with the condition, and one of them talked me into trying Russell Stover sugar free candies.
I chose the peanut brittle because I really like peanut brittle. This may be peanuts, and it may be brittle, but IMO, it is not peanut brittle. It is a cleverly disguised laxative. And it's cheap! In these parts, drug store laxatives run about $11 for a package with enough of the tough stuff to getcha moving in 24 hours. For only $1.75, you can get two and a half doses (they call it "servings"), which is more than enough to do the job.
These may be sugar free,but they are NOT low calorie!
What exactly is in these little gut-bombs?
- Maltitol syrup - This stuff is a sugar alcohol which is used as a sugar substitute. It's between 75 and 90 percent as sweet as sucrose, your basic table sugar, and has nearly identical properties, except for browning. It's used to replace the real stuff because it has half as many calories, does not promote tooth decay, and has a little less effect on blood glucose. It is used in commercial products under trade names such as Lesys, Maltisweet and SweetPearl.
- Isomalt - Another sugar alcohol. It is used mainly for its sugar-like physical properties. It only has about half the calories of sucrose, does not promote tooth decay, and has a small impact on blood glucose levels.
Now, in general, alcohol sugars are treated by the body as a dietary fiber instead of as a simple carbohydrate. So, like most fibers, it can increase bowel movements, passing through the gut virtually undigested. My experience says that is putting it politely. I found it to be rather like using the old baking soda and vinegar method of clearing a drain.
- Peanuts - Ok, that's nice. There were three to five nuts per chunk. I kinda like my peanut brittle to have about double that. But whatever.
- Butter (milk) - Yay! Everything's better with butter!
- Sorbitol - Yet another sugar alcohol. It also may be called glucitol. This one is metabolized slowly.
- Salt - Ok, even real peanut brittle needs some salt.
- Sodium Bicarbonate - Gives it the texture, but adds more sodium.
- Natural Flavor - The definition of natural flavor under the Code of Federal Regulations is: “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional” (21CFR101.22).
So it could be darned near anything. And remember, "natural" does NOT mean "organic!" A natural flavoring could be made with something that has been drenched in pesticides.
- Soy Lecithin /an Emulsifier - Ok, grabbing straight from Wikipedia here: is a generic term to designate any group of yellow-brownish fatty substances occurring in animal and plant tissues composed of phosphoric acid, choline, fatty acids, glycerol, glycolipids, triglycerides, and phospholipids (e.g., phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, and phosphatidylinositol). Lecithin was first isolated in 1846 by the French chemist and pharmacist Theodore Gobley. In 1850, he named the phosphatidylcholine léchithine. Gobley originally isolated lecithin from egg yolk—λέκιθος lekithos is "egg yolk" in Ancient Greek—and established the complete chemical formula of phosphatidylcholine in 1874; in between, he had demonstrated the presence of lecithin in a variety of biological matters, including venous blood, bile, human brain tissue, fish eggs, fish roe, and chicken and sheep brain. Lecithin can easily be extracted chemically (using hexane, ethanol, acetone, petroleum ether, benzene, etc.) or mechanically. It is usually available from sources such as soybeans, eggs, milk, marine sources, rapeseed, cottonseed, and sunflower. It has low solubility in water, but is an excellent emulsifier. In aqueous solution, its phospholipids can form either liposomes, bilayer sheets, micelles, or lamellar structures, depending on hydration and temperature. This results in a type of surfactant that usually is classified as amphipathic. Lecithin is sold as a food supplement and for medical uses. In cooking, it is sometimes used as an emulsifier and to prevent sticking, for example in nonstick cooking spray.
- Sucralose - An artificial sweetener. It is approximately 320 to 1,000 times as sweet as sucrose, twice as sweet as saccharin, and three times as sweet as aspartame. It can be heated and will store well. Common brand names of sucralose-based sweeteners are Splenda, Sukrana, SucraPlus, Candys, Cukren and Nevella. It does not cause cavities, and has no calories.
So this stuff has three sugar alcohols and an artificial sweetener instead of real sugar.
That little 3-pieces serving has 150 calories, 80 of which are from fat, because you need all that butter to give it any flavor. If you eat three of these little squares, you will consume 18% of your daily dose of saturated fats, and 10% of the sodium!
Ok, the taste. We'll consume all kinds of bad-for-ya stuff if it tastes good, right?
The flavor of peanuts was undetectable. There was none of that syrupy mouth-feel I expect from a good brittle. What little flavor there was came from a slightly rancid, mildly buttery taste. The aftertaste was metallic, with a slightly oily mouthfeel. We won't do this again.
As a candy, I give Russell Stover Sugar Free Peanut Brittle a 3 out of 10 points. As a laxative, I give it a 9.