Carbohydrates are the main source of calories for most Americans, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which recommends that adults consume 45 to 65 percent of their nutrition from carbohydrate sources. But some carbohydrates -- such as sucrose -- aren't the best choices for a healthy diet. Although it provides quick energy, because your body breaks it down easily, consuming a diet high in sucrose can raise your risk of Type 2 diabetes and other health problems. Some people are also intolerant of sucrose. Identifying high-sucrose foods is an important step in managing your consumption of this sugar.
Sucrose is called a disaccharide because it's made of two simple sugars, glucose and fructose, joined by a chemical bond. Although ordinary table sugar is sucrose, plants also produce it through photosynthesis. It's a natural component of all fruits, but some fruits are especially high in sucrose. Tangerines and mangos, for example, have about 12 grams per cup of sections and pieces, respectively. Fresh apricots contain 9 grams in 1 cup of fruit halves, while pineapple is also high in sucrose, with 1 cup of chunks providing about 8 grams. Eat these fiber-rich fruits fresh, because fiber helps slow the rise in your blood sugar, and avoid sweetened, canned versions that contain extra sugar.
Most vegetables contain some sucrose, but certain types are higher than others. For example, 1 cup of white corn or canned beets provides about 14 grams of sucrose. Starchy vegetables also tend to be high in sucrose --1 cup of cooked peas provides about 8 grams, while 1 cup of Lima beans has about 2 grams. Vegetables that tend to be lower in sucrose include summer squash and green beans, with about 0.5 gram in 1 cup of slices and whole beans, respectively. Leafy vegetables contain even lower amounts of sucrose. For example, 1 cup of frozen chopped spinach has less than 0.5 gram, while most types of lettuce are essentially sucrose-free.
Although most grain-based tend to be high in starch, they may also contain some sucrose. For example, 1 cup of cooked brown rice provides about 0.7 gram of sucrose, while the same amount of cooked white rice has somewhat less, about 0.1 gram. Most types of pasta also contain some sucrose, about 0.1 gram per cup of cooked pasta, although this can vary slightly with the type. Baked goods can be quite high in sucrose, depending on the amount of sugar added during preparation. For example, one average-sized piece of yellow or chocolate cake may contain as much as 50 grams of sucrose. Bread may also contain sucrose if sugar is included in the recipe, so check product labels.
Several other types of food are especially high in sucrose, which is often added or concentrated during processing. Dried fruits are a good example -- 1 cup of chopped dates can contain 35 grams of sucrose, while dried peaches provide about 25 grams in 1 cup of halves. Syrups are also quite high in sucrose, with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup containing almost 12 grams and 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce, or dulce de leche, providing almost 8 grams. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian about sucrose to decide on the best diet plan for your situation.
- Health.gov: 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- Elmhurst College Virtual Chembook: Sucrose
- National Nutrient Database: Sucrose, Fruits and Fruit Juices
- National Nutrient Database: Sucrose, Vegetables and Vegetable Products
- National Nutrient Database: Sucrose, Cereal Grains and Pasta
- National Nutrient Database: Sucrose, Baked Products
- National Nutrient Database: Sucrose, All Foods