I recently received a sample for review of a new sweetener from Italy called Dolcedi, made from organic apples. According to the manufacturer’s website:
“Dolcedì’ can be used any way you would use traditional table sugar or honey and in the same proportions; one teaspoon of sugar equals one teaspoon of Dolcedì’.”
It’s promoted as having a lower glycemic index than sugar–which it does. But the manufacturer also claims that it’s 25% lower in calories than sugar–which it is not.
When used as directed, Dolcedi actually provides 31% MORE calories than sugar.
How Did This Happen?!
The mislabeling appears to be an innocent–although extremely careless–error. As you can see, the label says that 1 teaspoon (4g) of Dolcedi provides 12 calories.
But something didn’t seem right to me. And when I got out my digital scale, I discovered that 1 teaspoon of Dolcedi does not weigh 4 grams. It actually weighs 7 grams, which suggests that it contains 21 calories per teaspoon, or 75% more than what the label says.
When I contacted the company (through their US based public relations firm), they confirmed that the label is incorrect. Here’s their explanation:
“The fact that Rigoni di Asiago is a European brand and Europe’s measuring practices are all metric system seems to be at the root of this miscommunication. When their team determined the caloric differences between regular sugar and Dolcedì, they were comparing these ingredients in grams. (Understandable since this is the standard unit of measuring ingredients for them!) By weight, Dolcedì does in fact have 25% fewer calories than sugar.”
While I get that Europeans may not be accustomed to English units, it’s a little hard to excuse the confusion over units of weight and volume. The metric system does include both. ((And for their reference, 1 teaspoon = 5 milliliters). The company’s rep says that they will be changing their labeling and marketing materials to correct this error and to revise their usage instructions. (They’re now saying that Dolcedi shouldn’t be used teaspoon for teaspoon.)
Obviously, it will take a while to get correctly labeled products on store shelves in the US. However, it has now been a couple of weeks since I brought the problem to their attention and no changes have been made on their website.
Update: 5/09/16: It has now been six weeks since I alerted the company about the error and they have yet to update their website with corrected calorie and usage information.
If you’re using this product, here’s my best guess at what the corrected label should look like:
What Makes Dolcedi Low Glycemic
With all of that going on, it’s easy to overlook their other big claim, which appears to be entirely accurate: Dolcedi sweetener has a glycemic index of just 22 (compared to sugar, which has a glycemic index of 100), meaning that it should cause much less of a rise in your blood sugar.
The reason that Dolcedi has such a low glycemic index is that it is almost 100% fructose. Apples contain a mix of fructose (which is processed in the liver and does not raise blood sugar), glucose, and sucrose (both of which are absorbed into the blood stream). According to company sources, Dolcedi is made by taking the juice from organic apples and filtering it to remove almost all of the glucose and sucrose.
Ironically, some of the people that will be most excited about this “all-natural” low-glycemic sweetener are the same people who have been so freaked out over high fructose corn syrup. If, despite all my efforts to clear up misunderstandings about fructose, you still believe fructose is something you need to avoid, then you’re going to want to steer clear of Dolcedi.
If you’re looking for a sweetener that’s less likely to raise your blood sugar, on the other hand, Dolcedi may be for you. Just be sure to use it with the same degree of moderation that you’d use for any other added sweetener. The goal is to limit added sugars from all sources to no more than 25 grams a day. If Dolcedi if your sweetener of choice, that would be about 5 teaspoons (equaling 104 calories).
How to Use: Because fructose is about 75% sweeter than sucrose (table sugar), I would suggest replacing 1 teaspoon of sugar with 1/2 teaspoon of Dolcedi to get the same degree of sweetness. When used this way (as opposed to substituting teaspoon for teaspoon), you’d cut calories from sugar by about one third.