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What Are the Different Types of Sugar Free Breads?

By L. Whitaker
Updated May 16, 2024
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Sugar free breads typically fit into two categories: those using alternative sweeteners and those without added sweeteners. Sourdough breads and unleavened breads made without sweeteners can be purchased at stores or made at home. Breads can also be created with sugar alternatives including diastatic malt, natural sweeteners such as molasses, or commercial sugar substitutes.

Many sugar free breads can be found in mainstream grocery stores or they can easily be made at home. Of the types of sugar free breads found at the grocery store, many are alternatives not necessarily associated with the bread aisle, such as tortillas, lavash, naan, or pita. These are considered unleavened breads, made primarily of flour and water with no added sweeteners. They are also easily made at home with minimal ingredients.

Other sugar free breads found at the grocery store can include artisan breads such as sourdough that use a long fermentation period rather than added yeasts and sugars. These, like all breads, do contain the starches that will turn into sugar when digested. The third type of sugar free breads are those specifically manufactured and marketed as such.

Over the years, manufactured bread has incorporated a greater amount of sugar. In the United States, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that one slice of white or wheat bread can contain up to 3 grams of sugar. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a food can only be labeled "sugar free" if it contains less than 0.5 g of sugar per serving and is completely free of ingredients commonly understood to be a sugar. Consumers can read the product's ingredients label to discern if sweeteners were added. If the label contains any type of added sugar, including corn sugar, corn syrup, or brown sugar, then the product is not sugar free.

Sugar free breads can be easily made at home, either creating doughs with no added sweeteners and longer fermentation periods, known as slow breads, or by using artificial or alternative sweeteners in the bread recipe. One such alternative to sugar, long used by bread makers, is diastatic malt. Diastatic malt is created from sprouted barley or wheat, and can be found in specialty stores, labeled as barely malt, or made at home with a sprouting jar. This natural sweetener breaks down the starches in dough and feeds the natural yeast so no sugars need to be added. Other sugar substitutes used in baking include brown rice syrup, date sugar, natural fruit juices, honey, agave nectar, molasses, and sugar substitutes such as Truvia™ or Splenda®.

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Discussion Comments
By serenesurface — On Jun 06, 2013

Does anyone have a recipe for sugar-free banana bread?

Will it taste okay if I just leave out the sugar, or should I use an artificial sweetener?

By donasmrs — On Jun 05, 2013

@ZipLine-- You can always make your own bread, all you need is a bread maker. If you're good at kneading dough, you can make it yourself and bake it in the oven.

My family is Indian and we only eat sugar-free bread. My mom makes roti, Indian flatbread, almost everyday. She makes her own dough and cooks it on the stove. It's yummy and healthy.

By ZipLine — On Jun 04, 2013

It's not as easy to find sugar-free bread as we think.

I was diagnosed with diabetes recently and started looking for sugar-free bread at the grocery. I was only able to find a few breads that had between zero and two grams of sugar. Most sandwich breads have between three and five grams. Some even have up to nine grams per serving!

Right now I'm eating an all-natural pita bread that comes from a nearby bakery. It's whole wheat and has zero grams of sugar.

By pastanaga — On Jun 04, 2013

@MrsPramm - I'd still try to use some alternative to white sugar, if possible, both because it will taste better and because it will be healthier.

And with the internet, it's easy to find really good recipes for this kind of thing. If you want a sugar free banana bread recipe, you only need to look online and find one.

By MrsPramm — On Jun 03, 2013

@Fa5t3r - I guess you get used to whatever you grow up with, but I don't find US breads to be that bad. Although, I suspect the greater problem is that they are probably made with corn syrup (isn't everything these days?) and that seems to have all kinds of health risks.

I would look for sugar free bread recipes just to avoid eating too much white sugar or corn syrup. But, I think, as long as you aren't allergic to it or something, that mostly the sugar in bread recipes doesn't really act like sugar, because it's there to feed the yeasts, not to add sweetness.

By Fa5t3r — On Jun 02, 2013

I'd be interested in finding some sugar free breads in the United States just because I find the bread there to be far too sweet most of the time.

I'm used to the bread you get in Europe which doesn't have any kind of sweetness to it, and I've noticed that I have to get home made style breads to get that same flavor in the States.

In some cases (like certain kinds of sandwiches) the sweet bread actually works quite well, but I find it too cloying to be an everyday kind of thing.

Maybe I should try some gluten free breads or something like that and see what they are like. I understand that sugar is needed for the process of making bread, but I don't think they need that much.

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