Yes, marshmallow fluff contains a very high amount of sugar. A typical serving of around 2 tablespoons (33g) contains 21g of sugar, which is over 80% of the serving by weight. This makes marshmallow fluff a very high-sugar food.
What is Marshmallow Fluff?
Marshmallow fluff, also known as marshmallow creme, is a soft, sweet spread made from sugar, corn syrup, egg whites, vanilla flavoring, and gelatin. It has a creamy, marshmallow-like texture and is used as a topping or filling for desserts. Some of the most popular uses of marshmallow fluff include:
- Fluffernutter sandwiches – Marshmallow fluff and peanut butter sandwiches
- S’mores – The classic campfire treat with graham crackers, chocolate, and toasted marshmallows
- Rice Krispie treats – Mixed with melted butter and rice cereal for a chewy treat
- Banana splits – A topping along with ice cream, bananas, chocolate, nuts, and whipped cream
Marshmallow fluff was invented in 1917 in Somerville, Massachusetts by confectioner Archibald Query. The original recipe used egg whites beaten with marshmallow root extract, corn syrup, and other flavorings. It was whipped to a light, fluffy texture.
Modern commercial versions of marshmallow fluff are made in a similar way using pasteurized egg whites, corn syrup, sugar, vanilla, and other ingredients. Gelatin is added to help stabilize the mixture. The ingredients are cooked to the proper temperature and consistency, then whipped vigorously to incorporate air and achieve the characteristic smooth, creamy texture.
Marshmallow fluff is high in sugar and low in other nutrients. Here are the nutrition facts for a 33g (approx. 2 Tbsp) serving of marshmallow fluff:
As you can see, a typical serving of marshmallow fluff contains 21g of sugar, which supplies nearly 100% of the carbohydrates. There is no fiber, protein, vitamins, or minerals. The calories come almost entirely from the sugar content.
Sugar Content of Marshmallow Fluff
So exactly how much sugar is in marshmallow fluff? Let’s take a closer look:
- A 33g serving contains 21g of sugar
- This means that sugar accounts for about 64% of marshmallow fluff by weight
- For comparison, most frostings and icings contain 50-60% sugar
- Foods containing over 25% sugar are considered high-sugar foods by dieticians
Clearly, marshmallow fluff far exceeds the thresholds for high sugar foods. In fact, it is one of the most concentrated sources of sugar you can eat.
Eating a 33g serving of marshmallow fluff supplies 21g of sugar, which is equivalent to:
- 5.3 tsp of granulated white sugar
- 84% of the daily value for added sugars (25g limit per day)
- 42% of the 50g daily sugar allowance recommended by the American Heart Association
To put this in perspective, the World Health Organization recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 10% of total daily calories. For a 2000 calorie diet, this would equate to 50g or 12 teaspoons of added sugar per day. A single serving of marshmallow fluff thus provides nearly half of the recommended daily limit!
High Glycemic Index
Not only does marshmallow fluff contain a lot of sugar, but it is almost entirely sucrose and corn syrup, which have high glycemic indexes. This means the sugar in marshmallow fluff is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and can lead to spikes in blood glucose.
Foods high on the glycemic index cause rapid rises in blood sugar and insulin levels, which can be problematic, especially for people with diabetes or insulin resistance. Over time, regularly consuming high glycemic foods can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.
Limited Nutritional Value
With their high sugar content and lack of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, foods like marshmallow fluff provide mostly empty calories and little nutritional value.
A 33g serving contains only 80 calories and no significant micronutrients. Replacing nutritious foods with these empty calorie sources can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies over time.
Additionally, the saturated fat and cholesterol from the egg whites make marshmallow fluff an unfavorable choice compared to fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean proteins and other more nutrient-dense foods.
Risks of Excessive Sugar Intake
Eating too much added sugar from foods like marshmallow fluff on a regular basis can negatively impact health in many ways:
- Tooth decay – Sugar feeds the bacteria that cause cavities and dental caries
- Weight gain – Added sugar is low in nutrients yet high in calories and may promote overeating
- Diabetes – Having chronically high blood sugar from sugar intake stresses the body’s ability to produce insulin
- Heart disease – Excess sugar consumption raises triglycerides and cholesterol levels that can lead to atherosclerosis
- Fatty liver disease – Fructose from sugar is preferentially converted to fat in the liver
- Inflammation – Sugar triggers inflammatory pathways linked to chronic diseases
Children are especially vulnerable to excess sugar intake as it can impact growth, cognition, behavior and oral health. The WHO and American Heart Association recommend limiting added sugar to less than 25g (6 tsp) per day for children 2-18 years old.
Ways to Reduce Sugar from Marshmallow Fluff
Marshmallow fluff is difficult to consume in moderation given its very high sugar content. Here are some tips for reducing sugar exposure:
- Use only a small amount as a rare treat or dessert topping
- Spread lightly onto whole grain toast instead of white bread
- Pair with protein like peanut butter to balance out the carb load
- Reduce portion size to 1 tablespoon or less
- Substitute Greek yogurt or whipped cream as lower sugar options
- Blend with reduced-sugar jelly for a lower sugar option
- Enjoy as an occasional dessert instead of daily treat
Ultimately, marshmallow fluff should comprise only a tiny portion of your diet, if any, according to dietary guidelines. Focusing your eating patterns on more wholesome, nourishing foods will provide you with the vitamins, minerals, fiber and other compounds needed for good health.
Healthier Dessert Alternatives
For a sweet treat, choose fresh fruit, Greek yogurt parfaits, or these healthier dessert ideas instead of marshmallow fluff:
- Banana “ice cream” – blended frozen bananas
- Baked apples – with cinnamon and raisins
- Chia pudding – with milk and vanilla
- Roasted sweet potatoes – with pecans and maple syrup
- Dark chocolate Avocado mousse – cocoa powder and honey
- Strawberry chia jam – chia seeds soaked in strawberry juice
Whipped cream sweetened with vanilla extract and a touch of honey is another lighter option. For sandwiches, use almond or peanut butter instead of marshmallow fluff.
Overall, fresh fruits and other whole foods deliver nutrition and fiber along with natural sugars. These are healthier choices than concentrated sources like marshmallow fluff.
Marshmallow fluff contains an extremely high amount of added sugar, supplying 21g (5+ tsp) in a typical serving. This represents 42-84% of daily sugar limits. With its high sugar content, lack of nutrients, and quick-spiking effect on blood glucose, marshmallow fluff provides empty calories and risks for chronic disease. Moderating intake to occasional small portions and choosing healthier alternatives is the best approach. Focusing on whole foods over processed products high in added sugar is ideal for a balanced, nutritious diet.