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Can Sugar-Free Chocolate Be Sweet?

During my MPhil project, I undertook a survey to understand people’s perceptions and knowledge about sugar-free chocolate in Accra.

One topic that kept coming up was “chocolate without added sugar, then it is not sweet.” This prompted long conversations with many of the participants in the survey.

In the realm of chocolate, this question persists: can sugar-free chocolate be sweet?

Sugar-free chocolate has long been a fascinating but elusive pursuit for chocolate lovers and health-conscious people alike.

In a world where indulgence frequently collides with dietary constraints, the concept of sugar-free chocolate begs the question, “Can it truly satisfy both the craving for sweetness and the pursuit of healthier choices?”

Chocolate has long been associated with extravagance, pleasure, and a rich, sweet flavour (Wong and Lua, 2011).

Its velvety texture and exquisite flavour, owing mostly to the presence of sugar, have instilled in us a particular level of sweetness.

This association between chocolate and sugar has become an intrinsic part of our culinary psyche, making the concept of sugar-free chocolate seem almost contradictory.

However, the evolving landscape of health awareness and dietary preferences has inspired a revolution in the way we perceive food.

With a greater emphasis on health and the negative effects of excessive sugar consumption, e.g., obesity, cardio-metabolic diseases, and dental diseases (Prada et al., 2022), the demand for healthier alternatives has surged.

Enter sugar-free chocolate, a potential solution aimed at reconciling our love for chocolate with our desire for healthier options.

YES, sugar-free chocolate can be sweet. Sugar-free chocolate mimics the sweetness of sugar without causing a rise in blood sugar levels by using alternative sweeteners such as erythritol, stevia, or monk fruit extract (Krampf, 2019).

While sugar plays a crucial role in the taste, texture, and viscosity of chocolate (Koivistoinen et al., 1985; Nurgel and Pickering, 2005), advancements in food technology have made it possible to create sugar-free chocolate variations that come remarkably close to replicating the sensory experience of conventional chocolate.

This innovation offers guilt-free indulgence, catering to those with diabetes, adhering to low-carb diets, or simply striving for a healthier lifestyle.

However, taste is inherently subjective. For some, sugar-free chocolate may indeed offer a satisfying sweetness, while others might detect a subtle disparity or an aftertaste, noticing the absence of sugar’s characteristic depth.

Our taste buds and expectations are intricately linked to our past experiences, and breaking away from the traditional notion of chocolate as inherently sweet can be a mental hurdle for many.

As consumers, we stand at a crossroads, navigating between the allure of familiar sweetness and the allure of a healthier alternative.

Maybe the real value of sugar-free chocolate lies not solely in its ability to perfectly mimic sweetness but in its capacity to offer a guilt-free option that aligns with different dietary requirements and palates.



  1. Prada M, Saraiva M, Garrido MV, Sério A, Teixeira A, Lopes D, Silva DA, Rodrigues DL. (2022). Perceived Associations between Excessive Sugar Intake and Health Conditions. Nutrients. 14(3):640.
  2. Maya Krampf. Keto Sweetener Conversion Chart for Erythritol, Monk Fruit, Stevia, & More. December 23, 2019. Retrieved December 14, 2023
  3. Koivistoinen, P. and Hyvönen, L. (1985). The use of sugar in foods. International dental journal, 35(3), pages 175–179.
  4. Nurgel, C. and Pickering, G. (2005). Contribution of glycerol, ethanol and sugar to the perception of viscosity and density elicited by model white wines. Journal of Texture Studies. 36, pages 303 – 323.

Wong SY and Lua PL. Chocolate: food for moods. Malays J Nutr. 2011 Aug; 17(2):259-69. PMID: 22303579.

Linda Boamah
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