Foods Highest in Sucrose

Do You Know Which Foods are Highest in Sucrose?

Most people would not know the answer to this question because the information is not readily available, but this is important information for someone with Sucrase-Isomaltase (SI) Deficiency to know and understand.

A food label will list the total amount of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and sugars. Neither starch nor the specific type of sugar is listed on the food label. However, all ingredients are listed on the ingredient label. People with GSID must learn to become food label detectives.

Detecting Sucrose

The exact amount (grams) of sucrose cannot be obtained from a food label, but the type of sugar can be determined from the ingredient label. The type of sugar can be from lactose (milk sugar), fructose (fruit sugar; fruits also contain varying amounts of sucrose), glucose, maltose (broken down from starch), or galactose (broken down from lactose). People with GSID should look for sucrose from ingredients such as sugar, cane juice, cane syrup, brown sugar, and powdered sugar that may cause GI symptoms. People with GSID can typically tolerate fructose and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). However, people with fructose malabsorption should avoid fructose and HFCS.

When looking at the ingredient list, remember that ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. This means ingredients listed first are in larger amounts than those ingredients listed last.

Nutrient Database

Many people today use food or diet apps to look up various nutrients like calories, fat, or calcium in the foods they eat. Unfortunately, there is not a good app available to date that provides complete data on dietary sucrose and starch content. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference which is the major source of food composition data in the US. The database contains over 8,000 food items and provides data on many nutrients. While the data for sucrose and starch is not complete, the USDA continues to update the database with this information. The public is free to use and search this database.

Dietary calculations are not an exact science, and the nutrient data is a best estimate. Many factors play into the food analyses, including where the food was grown, how mature it was, if was cooked or raw, etc. While these databases are excellent resources, the individual’s ability to tolerate particular foods will vary. Much of the diet planning comes from trial and error, and for many patients this can be frustrating. Working with healthcare professionals, dietitians, and other families who already follow a sucrose- and starch-modified diet can be helpful.