9 Low-Sugar Foods That Are Naturally Sweet
Sugar is a complex beast. It is found in several forms in myriad different foods. Many foods that contain sugar also contain a wide array of nutrients and are extremely good for us – but the same time, many sweet foods are processed, packed with added sugar, and best limited or avoided.
Today, we’re here to talk about sugar: when it’s OK to eat and when it isn’t, and how to satisfy your sweet tooth with some relatively low-sugar foods that are naturally sweet.
What Is Sugar?
Sugar refers to any sweet-tasting soluble carbohydrate. Sugars contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules. When any type of sugar (or carbohydrate in general) is consumed, it is broken down into glucose, which is the preferred energy source for cells in the human body.
The Main Types Of Sugars
The five most common forms of sugars found in the human diet are:
- Fructose (found in fruit)
- Sucrose (table sugar), a compound of glucose + fructose
- Lactose (found in dairy), a compound of glucose + galactose
What Is The Difference Between Naturally Occurring Sugar And Added Sugar?
Added sugar refers to refined sugar that is added to processed foods. Naturally occurring sugar is the sugar found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Foods with naturally occurring sugar and foods with added sugar tend to have very different effects on your body.
The amount of sugar in fruit is relatively low compared to the amount of sugar added to processed foods, which are often designed to be unnaturally sweet. Also, fruit contains plenty of soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber forms a gel-like substance in the small intestine, which slows the rate of sugar absorption so that the liver is not overwhelmed. Research suggests that this process prevents insulin from rising as much or as quickly as it would if you ingested sugar without the fiber. Fiber in fruit also helps you feel fuller for longer and therefore eat less calories.
Why Is Eating A Low- Or No-Sugar Diet Beneficial To Your Health?
Research suggests that consuming too much sugar can lead to weight gain, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Eating a diet that is lower in sugar should reduce the chances of these negative health outcomes occurring.
What Sweet Things Can I Eat On A No Sugar Diet?
Most sweet foods contain some sugar. Foods containing naturally occurring sugar, such as fruits, tend to be high in a wide variety of nutrients and contain plenty of fiber, meaning their sugar content does not lead to the same harmful health effects as foods containing added sugar.
What Foods Are Naturally Sweet?
The most naturally sweet foods include:
- Some nuts
- Some vegetables
If you are looking for low-sugar snacks for a sweet tooth, these natural options, which are packed with nutrients, are your healthiest choices.
How Can I Satisfy My Sweet Tooth Without Added Sugar?
You can easily satisfy a sweet tooth without having to resort to processed foods that contain added sugar. Read on for some low-sugar foods that are naturally sweet.
Fruit is often called “nature’s candy”, and for good reason! It is naturally sweet but high in fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, and in general it’s very healthy.
2. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a rich and delicious alternative to milk chocolate that contains only a fraction of the added sugar.
Berries pack a massive nutritional punch. Many berries are naturally sweet but contain relatively little sugar, as well as plenty of fiber and vitamins.
Nuts such as almonds, hazels, pecans, and peanuts have a creamy sweetness to them, but are relatively low in sugar. Watch out, though – nuts can be very high in fat and quite calorie-dense, so don’t go overboard.
Natural yogurt is creamy and delicious and relatively low in sugar. It’s especially good with berries and cinnamon – two of the other foods on our list!
Many vegetables are deliciously sweet but low in sugar. Tasty sweet vegetables include sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, and sugar snap peas.
Cinnamon is a spice with a rich, smoky sweetness that goes great on oatmeal, in smoothies, with natural yogurt, and in coffee.
8. Herbal Teas
Many herbal teas are deliciously sweet while containing no sugar at all. Mint, vanilla, and fruit teas can all satisfy a sweet tooth with zero sugar needed.
9. Banana and Egg Pancakes
Pancakes might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of low-sugar foods, but wait until you try this simple banana-and-egg version! If you whisk a banana and two eggs together and then fry the mixture in a pan as you would “regular” pancakes, you get a scrumptiously sweet snack that contains zero added sugar.