Is the sugar free Jello pudding mix good for you?

Sugar free Jello pudding mix has become a popular lower calorie substitute for regular pudding mixes that contain added sugars. With rising rates of obesity and diabetes, many people are looking for ways to reduce sugar in their diets. But is switching to sugar free pudding really better for you?

What is in sugar free Jello pudding?

The main ingredients in Jello sugar free pudding mixes are:

  • Modified food starch – used as a thickener instead of cornstarch
  • Natural flavors – for taste
  • Artificial sweeteners – such as sucralose, acesulfame potassium, or aspartame
  • Food dyes – for color
  • Salt
  • Preservatives

By replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners, the calories and carbs are reduced significantly compared to regular pudding mixes. The nutritional information panel states that a 1/2 cup serving of prepared sugar free Jello chocolate pudding contains 60 calories, 0g fat, 190mg sodium, 2g protein, 14g carbs, and less than 1g fiber and sugar.

Benefits of sugar free Jello pudding

Some potential benefits of choosing sugar free pudding include:

  • Fewer calories – Sugar free pudding only contains about 60 calories per serving compared to 100-130 calories in regular pudding.
  • Less sugar – Sugar free pudding mostly eliminates added sugars from your diet.
  • Lower carb – The carb content drops from 26-30g in regular pudding to 14g in sugar free.
  • Blood sugar control – The artificial sweeteners don’t raise blood sugar levels like regular sugar does.
  • Weight loss – The fewer calories and carbs can help with losing or managing weight when eaten in moderation.
  • Convenient – Sugar free pudding requires no cooking and is ready in minutes with just milk.

Downsides of sugar free Jello pudding

However, there are also some drawbacks to keep in mind when choosing sugar free pudding mixes:

  • Artificial sweeteners – Sugar substitutes like sucralose and acesulfame K are highly processed and there are mixed opinions on their safety. Some studies link them to health issues while others refute the evidence.
  • Preservatives – Sugar free pudding contains preservatives like potassium sorbate and sodium hexametaphosphate.
  • Food dyes – The artificial colors yellow 5 & 6, red 40, and blue 1 are unnecessary chemical additives.
  • Lacks nutrients – Sugar free pudding is low in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Regular pudding at least contains some milk nutrients.
  • Texture differences – Some consumers complain sugar free pudding has a chalky texture compared to regular.
  • Gut health – Artificial sweeteners may harm gut bacteria linked to health issues like obesity and diabetes according to some studies.
  • Still a processed food – While sugar free, pudding mix is still a highly processed, artificial food with chemical additives.

Are the artificial sweeteners safe?

One of the biggest concerns with sugar free pudding is the use of artificial sweeteners instead of real sugar. Let’s take a closer look at the safety of the main sweeteners used:


  • 600 times sweeter than sugar so only small amounts needed
  • FDA approved, GRAS status
  • Doesn’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels
  • Associated with digestive issues in some studies
  • Passed through the body unabsorbed
  • Concerns about impact on gut bacteria

Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-K)

  • 200 times sweeter than sugar
  • FDA approved, GRAS status
  • Shown safe in human studies
  • Passes through the body and is excreted in urine
  • Shelf life up to 5 years when dry
  • Can impact insulin response at very high doses


  • 200 times sweeter than sugar
  • FDA approved, GRAS status
  • Metabolizes into phenylalanine, so harmful for those with PKU
  • Studies show safe at normal intake levels
  • Shelf life only a few months when wet
  • Associated with headaches and poor blood sugar control in some studies

Overall, major health and regulatory agencies consider sucralose, ace-K, and aspartame safe for general consumption at typical use levels. But some studies have raised potential concerns over effects on gut health and metabolism.

Does sugar free pudding help with weight loss?

Replacing higher calorie, higher sugar foods with sugar free pudding could contribute to weight loss diets by lowering daily calories, sugar, and carbs. However, keep these points in mind:

  • Weight loss depends on overall calorie deficit, not just one food.
  • Sugar free pudding has limited nutrition and doesn’t provide lasting fullness.
  • Make sure to account for calories from added milk.
  • Portion control is important – it’s easy to overeat pudding.
  • Should be part of balanced diet with plenty of whole foods.

Sugar free pudding alone won’t lead to significant weight loss if the rest of your diet is largely unchanged. But when incorporated into a nutritious, reduced calorie diet, it can be an occasional lower calorie substitute for high sugar desserts or snacks.

Is sugar free or regular pudding healthier?

When comparing sugar free vs regular pudding, there are pros and cons to each:

Sugar Free Pudding Regular Pudding
  • Lower in calories
  • No added sugar
  • Lower glycemic response
  • Real food ingredients
  • Higher nutrients from milk
  • No artificial sweeteners

Overall, neither version is incredibly nutritious since pudding is a processed dessert. But sugar free pudding may be slightly preferable for people limiting calories, carbs, and added sugars. Those more concerned about avoiding artificial sweeteners may find regular pudding with real sugar the better option when eaten in small portions.

Healthier pudding alternatives

For better nutrition, consider alternatives to boxed Jello pudding mixes like:

  • Chia pudding – Made with chia seeds, milk, and sweeteners like maple syrup. Provides fiber, protein, and nutrients.
  • Avocado pudding – Blending avocado with cocoa powder and milk for a creamy texture.
  • Cottage cheese pudding – Mixing cottage cheese with Greek yogurt, milk, and fruit.
  • Chocolate avocado mousse – Made with avocado, cocoa powder, milk, and sweetener for a rich treat.
  • Banana pudding – Layer banana slices and wafers in cashew or Greek yogurt flavored with vanilla.
  • Rice pudding – Cooked rice simmered in milk and cinnamon, less processed but still high calorie.

Be sure to check any recipe’s nutrition info, as alternatives aren’t necessarily lower calorie. But they provide more natural nutrition from ingredients like fruits, healthy fats, and protein.


Sugar free Jello pudding can be a useful occasional substitute for higher sugar or higher calorie desserts. But keep portions small and focus on an overall healthy diet rich in whole foods. Limit artificial sweeteners if possible by choosing naturally sweetened desserts made with real food ingredients.

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