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'Sugar-Free' Doesn't Mean 'Fat-Free' continued...

The lesson here: It's essential to watch your portions of these treats.

As for calories, the good news about sugar-free chocolate is that there are calorie savings. The bad news is that it isn’t an impressive amount.

For example, a 40-gram serving of Dove sugar-free chocolate has 190 calories, while the same amount of regular milk chocolate totals around 210. The difference – 20 calories -- doesn't sound like much. But if you replace the regular candy with the sugar-free version every day, you could save 140 calories a week, and 560 per month.

Side Effects

Here's another reason to make sure you enjoy these sweets in moderation: In fine print on most packages of sugar-free chocolate is a warning: "Excessive consumption may cause a laxative effect."

This is thanks to the part of the sugar alcohol that isn’t absorbed. It goes through the intestinal tract and gets digested by bacteria of the gut. Discomfort ranging from gas to diarrhea can result -- depending on how much of the chocolate you consume and your individual intestinal tract.

"The sugar-free chocolates have definitely been helpful for my clients,” says Tamara James RN, CDE, diabetes educator for the University of California-Davis Medical Center. "But they don’t realize that too much of it will cause them intestinal problems."

The key to avoiding discomfort: "Just don’t pig out on it," says McNutt.

The American Dietetic Association advises that more than 50 grams of sorbitol or 20 grams of mannitol per day can cause diarrhea. You can tell how much sugar alcohol is in a serving of each sugar-free chocolate product by reading the nutrition information label (be sure to pay attention to the listed serving size).

Chocolate Taste Test

Health considerations aside, the real question many of us have is this: Can the taste of sugar-free chocolates compare to the real thing?

To get the answer, WebMD gathered samples of several brands of sugar-free chocolate and assembled a team of 10 tasters that included teens, people with diabetes, people trying to shed extra pounds, and people who just love chocolate.

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