Most people have become astute label readers and know that the label “No Refined Sugars” simply means that a different form of sugar—such as honey, molasses or apple juice—has been used to sweeten a product. The sugars are metabolized similarly by the body. A product that is sweetened only with fruit juice may have lower calories, but it won’t be nearly as sweet as a product sweetened with sugar or honey.
“Sugar-Free” and “No Sugar Added” are not the same.
No Sugar Added foods have no form of sugar added during processing or packaging. They do not contain any high-sugar ingredients. Any particular No Sugar Added product may, however, still be high in carbohydrates from other ingredients; so check the label if that is your concern.
Sugar-Free foods should contain no sugar whatsoever. Since there are trace amounts of sugar in fruits and milk, e.g., products that contain them might be labeled No Sugar Added, but they technically could call themselves Sugar-Free. USDA guidelines give manufacturers the right to call products Sugar-Free if the natural sugar level is below a certain threshold; but some prefer not to use that claim and go with No Sugar Added.
These cookies are sugar-free. No ingredients* in them contain natural sugar. (You can buy sugar-free Oreos online.)
And now on to the second major category, the non-nutritive or “artificial” sweeteners.