Eating a sugar free diet has many benefits. Identifying sugar-free foods is not that easy. Find out why a sugar-free diet is worthwhile, which sugar traps are lurking in wait for you and which foods without sugar should be on your shopping list – food list included.
Best Sugar Free Diet
In general, all fresh, unprocessed foods are considered sugar-free or low-sugar. This includes:
- Whole grain products in the form of flakes, bread, rice or pasta
- Unsweetened beverages such as tea or mineral water
- Legumes like beans, lentils, etc.
- Dairy products with no artificial added sugar such as cheese, natural yoghurt, etc.
- Fresh fruit
- nuts, seeds, and kernels
- Oils and fats such as olive oil or butter
Sugar content in fruits and vegetables
While fruits and veggies aren’t strictly sugar-free, their sugars don’t come alone. Due to their high vitamin, mineral, and fiber content, fruit and vegetables also provide important nutrients.
Some fruits and vegetables are richer in natural sugars than others.
Fruit with little sugar
Berries in particular, such as blackberries, raspberries or currants, are fruit rich in vitamins and almost sugar-free due to their high water content. On average, they provide less than 5 g of carbohydrates per 100 g.
Fruit with a lot of sugar
- dried fruit
Exotic fruits such as mangoes or pineapples are fruits with a lot of sugar. You also have to be careful with all types of dried fruit: Due to dehydration, their sugar content is very highly concentrated.
Vegetables with little sugar
Green vegetables in particular have a particularly low carbohydrate content (below 3 g per 100 g) and are considered sugar-free.
By the way: No vegetables are completely sugar-free. Mushrooms, fennel and green asparagus are the top performers with a sugar content below 0.5 g per 100 g.
Vegetables with a lot of sugar
- sweet potatoes
“A lot” is relative here – because vegetables generally contain hardly any sugar. The vegetables mentioned only provide more than 5 g of carbohydrates per 100 g.
Sugar free food list
There are hardly any foods that do not contain any sugar. But instead of giving up carbohydrates from fresh foods, you can save on the added sugar with this list of foods:
Fresh fruit and vegetables
- spring onions
Whole grains like pasta, rice, and baked goods
Noodles, rice, and co. made from whole grains mainly provide complex carbohydrates, which serve as a valuable source of energy and also provide us with important minerals and fiber.
- Baked goods, rice and pasta made from whole wheat flour
Avoid light-colored, heavily ground flours.
You can recognize these by the low type numbers. They provide so-called “empty” carbohydrates, so they contain a few calories but no valuable ingredients like flour from whole grains.
Sausage, meat, eggs, and fish
Animal foods are a great source of protein but are not essential to a sugar-free diet.
- Natural meat
- Fresh fish
- Sugar-free sausage
Sugar trap marinades and sausage products
This is where added sugars hide. Look for an ingredient list without sugar. Even better: prepare it fresh yourself.
Natural dairy products such as cheese and yogurt
Many dairy products naturally contain the less sweet milk sugar lactose, which has a lesser effect on our blood sugar.
- Natural yogurt
- hard cheeses
- soft cheese
- sour cream
Sugar trap milk mix drinks
Dairy drinks and most products with fruit content contain plenty of added sugar – pay attention to the list of ingredients.
Oils, fats, and spices
In general, pure fats contain no sugar. With spices such as cinnamon or vanilla, you can enhance the “sweet” taste in dishes – even without sugar.
- rapeseed oil
- olive oil
- coconut oil
- linseed oil
- clarified butter
- cocoa butter
- Pure spices
- Fresh herbs
Sugar Trap Spice Blends
Spice mixes may contain added sugars. Look for a sugar-free ingredient list and prefer fresh herbs.
Like whole grains, legumes contain well-packaged carbohydrates. So they have to be “unpacked” first so that our body can process them. Consequence: Our blood sugar rises more regularly and less strongly.
Nuts and kernels
Nuts, seeds, and seeds consist mainly of healthy fats and proteins. This means that all types of healthy power grains are very well suited for a sugar-free diet.
- cashew nuts
- brazil nuts
- sunflower seeds
- Chia seeds
Sugar trap seasoned and coated nuts and kernels
Seasoned or coated nuts or kernels are often not sugar-free. Reach for natural – preferably also unsalted – products.
Drinking sugar-free is particularly important. The high sugar and calorie content of sodas, juices, and the like is often underestimated.
- Mineral water
- Unsweetened tea
- Unsweetened coffee
Sugar trap smoothies, energy drinks, and cocktails
Smoothies, energy drinks, and cocktails are real sugar bombs. Also, pay attention to the sugar content of “sports drinks” and juice spritzers and prefer naturally flavored drinks.
Sugar-free diet: forbidden foods
In order to eat sugar-free, we have to say goodbye to some products:
- Candy, chocolate, chips, cookies, ice cream
- Baked goods such as pastries and cakes
- Products made from white, heavily ground flour
- dried fruit
- Sweet spreads such as jams and chocolate creams
- Sweetened finished products such as ketchup, mueslis, ready-made soups, fruit yogurts
- Fast food and most ready meals
- Sweetened drinks such as sodas, nectar, and energy drinks
- fruit syrup, fruit juices, and fruit juice concentrates
- Store-bought salad dressings and sauces
How do I recognize sugar in food?
Almost all processed foods contain too much sugar, even if some seem sugar-free at first glance. In general, you should study the list of ingredients carefully when shopping.
Behind the following additives is sugar – and the further up they are, the more of it is included:
- Endings with “-ose”, such as glucose, sucrose, maltose
- sweet whey powder skimmed milk powder
- Fructose, puree, and extract
- Malts such as barley malt, malt extract, etc.
Check the ingredients list before purchasing
Finished products in particular are often not sugar-free. Sugar preserves food, gives it an intense flavor, and is cheap – properties that the industry takes advantage of. Even for products that don’t belong in the confectionery department, such as ready-made sauces, muesli or baked goods
How much sugar is allowed each day?
World Health Organization (WHO) recommends consuming no more than 10% of the energy required per day in the form of free sugar.
For an adult with an average total requirement of 2000 kilocalories per day, the maximum sugar consumption is therefore 50 g or about 10 teaspoons. Currently, an adult eats almost 80 g daily (2018).
Avoid artificially added sugar
All single and double sugars that are added to drinks and food or that occur in honey, syrup, fruit juices or fruit juice concentrates are considered free sugars . Avoid the artificially added sugar in sweets, baked goods and the like – naturally occurring fruit sweeteners, on the other hand, are less of a problem.
Why reduce sugar consumption?
Avoiding sugar has many advantages :
- Healthy dietary changes:
Processed products are high in sugar and calories but low in nutrients. They are forbidden on a sugar diet. Instead, fresh and wholesome foods are on the menu that are largely sugar-free. They provide sustainable energy and all the important vitamins, minerals, trace elements and fiber.
- Weight loss:
Those who eat less sugar consume less energy and empty calories overall. That melts the excess kilos.
- Health prevention:
Living sugar-free reduces obesity. This also reduces the risk of developing diabetes, hardening of the arteries and cardiovascular problems. Teeth and intestines also benefit from the lack of sugar. Because sugar causes tooth decay and damages your teeth.