People with a sucrose intolerance (which typically disguises itself as irritable bowel syndrome / IBS) are often prescribed a sucrose intolerance diet, which means they need to avoid foods high in sucrose. That is easier said than done, to say the least!
Please feel free to refer to this comprehensive list of high-sucrose foods as a guide, if you’ve been prescribed a sucrose intolerance diet (with help from your doctor and registered dietitian as needed).
Disclaimer: This is not medical or nutritional advice; it’s meant to be educational and informative. This information is not intended to replace 1:1 consultation with your doctor and registered dietitian.
This information may not be helpful or relevant for you if you’re prone to disordered eating or in recovery from an eating disorder, since these types of dietary restrictions may not be in alignment with your individual needs.
What is sucrose?
Sucrose is the chemical name for “table sugar.”
From a food science standpoint, sucrose is a type of simple sugar (“disaccharide”) in which a glucose molecule and a fructose molecule (two types of “monosaccharides”) are joined together.
If you have a sucrose intolerance, referring to and avoiding/reducing/limiting the following list of high-sucrose foods and beverages (with supervision and guidance from a registered dietitian) will likely help you to improve your IBS symptoms.
Which foods are high in sucrose?
Sucrose can be found naturally in certain types of fruits, veggies, starches (which break down into sucrose), most types of nuts, and many types of sweeteners.
Ironically, many “low FODMAP” foods tend to be higher in sucrose, which explains why people with a sucrose intolerance often feel worse on a low FODMAP diet.
Most processed foods also tend to be high in sucrose, simply because they contain flour and/or added sugar. (That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t eat any processed food – you just need to be extra careful when it comes to label reading.)
Foods and beverages considered to be high in sucrose are those which contain at least 1 gram of sucrose per 100 grams of food. (1)
High sucrose foods list
While this is not necessarily a list of foods that you’ll need to avoid, it’s a list of foods high in sucrose which may be more likely to trigger your IBS symptoms if you have a sucrose intolerance (sucrase-isomaltase deficiency).
The purpose of this list is to give you more clarity around what to look for in terms of patterns via an IBS food diary, so you can more easily identify your own IBS trigger foods which will be unique to you.
Please take what you need, and leave the rest!
- Citrus: oranges, grapefruit, clementines, tangerines, mandarin oranges, tangelos, etc.
- Honeydew melon
- Passion fruit
- Passion fruit
- Butternut squash
- Green peas
Legumes & proteins
People with a sucrose intolerance can generally eat any type of meat, poultry, or fish/seafood as long as it isn’t made with a high-sucrose type of sauce/seasoning (i.e. garlic, or barbeque sauce which contains a source of added sugar).
The following plant-based protein sources naturally high amounts of sucrose and/or starch (which breaks down into sucrose in the gut):
- Black beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Chickpeas (“garbanzo beans”)
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans
- Navy beans
- Pinto beans
- Split peas
Unfortunately, most people with sucrase-isomaltase deficiency can’t always digest and absorb starches very well. (2)
While some practitioners may recommend that you eliminate all starches, this isn’t always realsitic or nutritionally sound. That said, refined, processed grains tend to turn into sucrose at a faster rate compared to minimally procesed whole grains like oats and barley.
Below is a list of high-sucrose starches to refer to as part of a sucrose intolerance diet and treatment plan:
- All-purpose flour
- Corn / corn flour products
- Breads, pastries (muffins, bagels, croissants, coffee cake, etc.)
- Commercially made crackers, croutons, breadcrumbs
- Granola, granola bars
- Mainstream pancakes/waffles
- White rice
- Sweet potatoes
- Tapioca starch
- Wheat flour / whole wheat
- Coconut palm sugar / “coconut sugar”
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Beet sugar
- Cane sugar
- Brown sugar
- Date sugar
- Date syrup
- Maple sugar
- Domino sugar
- Granulated sugar
- Real maple syrup
- Turbinado sugar
- Sugar in the Raw®
Condiments and commercially-made foods
While not all condiments are high in sucrose (it depends on the individual ingredient list of a given product), it’s common for many types of commercial condiments to contain added sugar in the form of sucrose (table sugar / cane sugar / beet sugar, etc.).
When in doubt, make sure to look at the ingredient list! Below is a general guide.
- Any food containing starch (flour), and/or “sugar” or “sucrose” or “maple syrup” or “coconut sugar” as an added ingredient:
- Mainstream/commercial candy and chocolate
- Most commercially made “health foods” – i.e. flavored yogurt, protein bars, protein shakes, protein powders
- Coffee cake
- Maltodextrin (starch additive)
- Mainstream cookies
- Ice cream
- Commercially made condiments: ketchup sweet relish, barbeque sauce, bread & buter pickles, tomato sauce with added sugar
- Commercially made salad dressings with added sugar
- Commercially made jams/jellies
- Processed meats cured with sugar (check ingredient list)
Not all of these on the market are guaranteed to contain sucrose, but it’s helpful to check the ingredient list for any of the sweeteners listed above in the “sweeteners” or fruit/veggies category.
- Anything processed (check the ingredient list), for example:
- Commercially-made coffee drinks / coffee creamers
- Commercially-made meal replacement drinks/supplements (i.e. Boost, Ensure)
- Juices made with high-sucrose fruits/veggies/sweeteners
- Energy drinks or iced tea sweetened with high-sucrose sweeteners
- Sodas or sports drinks with high-sucrose sweeteners
- Sweetened nut milks
- Nut butters
To learn more about sucrose intolerance and sweeteners, feel free to check out the following articles:
- What is a Sucrose Intolerance, and How Do You Know If You Have It?
- Why & How to Keep an IBS Food Diary
- What’s the Best IBS Diet?
- Food Allergy vs Intolerance vs Sensitivity
- Spilling the Tea on Splenda® (Sucralose) and IBS
- Honey for IBS: Pros & Cons
- Are Stevia and IBS Compatible?
- Monk Fruit and IBS
- IBS and Coffee – Can They Coexist?
Final thoughts & next steps
This information is only relevant for you if you have a confirmed sucrase-isomaltase deficiency and have been prescribed a sucrose intolerance diet by your doctor/registered dietitian.
More foods than not are high in sucrose, and it can get overwhelming pretty quickly to try to navigate this on your own.
If you suspect you have a sucrose intolerance, you should start by logging your food intake and IBS symptoms via an IBS food diary. You can then use the above list as a guide to look for patterns alongside working with a doctor and registered dietitian 1:1 to see if it may be worth running a sucrose intolerance test.
If you have an eating disorder, make sure to work with a registered dietitian who specializes in eating disorders before embarking on any kind of elimination diet – even if you suspect you have a sucrose intolerance.
Many people with a sucrose intolerance will be able to reintroduce some foods high in sucrose at some point in their healing journey, with the right treatment.
If you’d like to learn more about how to navigate complex gut issues from a holitsic nutrition standpoint, feel free to join my email community and download a copy of my free gut health nutrtion guide, 5 Diet Mistakes to Avoid When Healing Your Gut.
Wishing you the best of luck on your journey!
XO – Jenna