Sucrose is a natural sweetener most often called table sugar. There are three main sources of sucrose in the diet:

  • Table sugar added to foods when cooking or baking.

  • Sucrose (table sugar) added to processed foods (hot dogs, sweetened fruit juices, fruit drinks, sodas, canned fruits, ketchup, spaghetti sauces, etc.).

  • Sucrose that occurs naturally in foods (maple syrup, molasses, fruits and vegetables).

Sucrose is broken down in the body by an enzyme named sucrase. Sucrase breaks down sucrose into two simple sugars: glucose and fructose. When a person has low levels or lacks the sucrase enzyme, too much sucrose can build up in the gut. This can cause bloating, gas, abdominal pain, cramping, and diarrhea.

Reactions to sucrose vary. Some people can handle more sucrose in the diet than others. Most people have problems with large amounts of sucrose or a diet high in sugar.

To decrease symptoms, you will need to read food labels. Check labels for sugars, syrup and other foods that have sucrose.

Avoid foods that list sugars as one of the first four ingredients. If you are not sure about the product, contact the company. Most products list a phone number on the label that you can call if you have questions.

You will not need any other nutritional supplements when you follow a low sucrose diet. You will get the nutrients you need by eating a well-balanced diet.

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about whether your medicines contain sucrose. Many lozenges, cough and vitamin syrups contain sucrose. You may need some medicines to be made for you without sucrose. Allow extra time for this custom order.

Some people will find relief of symptoms quickly while others need more time. You can slowly add foods back into your diet once your symptoms improve. Bring only one new food back into your diet at a time. Wait 2-3 days in between. If you remain symptom-free, add more new foods. If symptoms restart, restrict diet to where you are symptom-free. This will help you determine the amount of sucrose and sucrose containing foods that your body can handle.

Sweeteners

Choose:

  • Glucose

  • Corn syrup

  • High fructose corn syrup

  • Lactose

  • Dextrose

  • Maltose

  • Fructose

  • Agave nectar

  • Honey (with caution)

  • Sugar substitutes: aspartame, Nutrasweet®, Equal®, Sweet’n-Low®, Sucralose (Splenda®), Stevia®

  • Sugar alcohols: sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol

Avoid

  • Table sugar

  • Cane sugar

  • Beet, date, or coconut sugar

  • Granulated sugar

  • Powdered or confectioner’s sugar

  • Brown sugar

  • Raw sugar or turbinado sugar

  • Demerara icing

  • Molasses

  • Sucanat

  • Caramel

  • Maple syrup

  • Cane juice

Although some sweeteners are OK to use, some people may not tolerate large amounts. Sugar alcohols found in many sugar-free candies may cause diarrhea.

Fruits

Choose:

  • Cherries

  • Watermelon

  • Plums

  • Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries

  • Kiwi

  • Strawberries

  • Lemon/Lemon juice

  • Lime /Lime juice

  • Grapes

  • Persimmons

  • Pears

  • Papaya

  • Prunes

  • Avocado

Limit up to 2 servings per day (raw, canned in water, or cooked with allowed sweeteners) and eat as part of a meal.

Limit or Avoid:

  • Apricots

  • Apples

  • Bananas

  • Grapefruit

  • Cantaloupe

  • Peaches

  • Pineapple

  • Orange (navel and mandarin)

  • Honeydew

  • Mango

  • Raisins

  • Dates

  • Canned fruit in syrups

  • Fruit (fresh, frozen, canned, dried) sweetened with added sugar

Avoid fruit juices, canned fruit in syrups or fruit (fresh, frozen, canned, dried) sweetened with added sugar.

Vegetables

Choose:

  • Any vegetables (fresh, frozen, canned) that are not on the limit or avoid list

Limit or Avoid:

  • All dried beans, baked beans

  • Lentils

  • Green peas

  • Soybeans

  • Sweet pickles

  • Store-bought spaghetti sauce (homemade spaghetti sauce made without sugar is fine)

Limit the following to 2 tablespoon portions: Parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, beets, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, and butternut/buttercup squash.

Dairy

Choose:

  • Milk (whole, 2%, 1% or skim)

  • Unsweetened milk substitutes (soy, almond, coconut, rice)

  • Plain yogurt

  • Cheeses

  • Sugar free or low sugar ice cream

Limit or Avoid

  • Flavored or sweetened milks (chocolate or others)

  • Flavored or sweetened yogurts

  • Sweetened condensed milk

  • Ice cream

  • Certain processed cheese spreads

Drinks

Choose:

  • Water, carbonated water

  • Milk (whole, 2%, 1% or skim)

  • Unsweetened milk substitutes (soy, almond, coconut, rice)

  • Glucose-sweetened energy and sports drinks

  • Powdered drink, sugar free (or made with allowed sweetener)

  • Coffee or tea (unsweetened)

  • Sugar free lemonade or limeade

  • Plain cocoa powder

  • Diet soda

Limit or Avoid:

  • Carbonated sweetened drinks and sodas

  • Fruit and/or vegetable juices

  • Milk shakes/malts

  • Sweetened teas, coffees, powered drinks

  • Milk flavorings and syrups

  • Sweetened milks and milk substitutes

Other Foods

Choose:

  • Most cheeses, eggs, meats, poultry, fish are safe to eat. They have no or little sucrose.

  • You may or may not be able to tolerate tofu and other soy-based products.

Limit or Avoid:

  • Chocolate and most other desserts made with sugar.

  • Condiments like jams, jellies, sauces, chutneys, ketchup, sweet relish, BBQ sauce, mayonnaise, and salad dressings high in sugar.

  • Prepared meats like pasties, sausages, ham, hot dogs, deli meats, liverwurst and pâtés that may be cured with sucrose.

  • Coconut, coconut milk, and creams used in cooking as they are high in sugar.

  • Breads and cereal products that list sugar in the first 4 ingredients.

  • Nuts and nut butters. Check the label if any sugars added.

If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions, please contact UW Health at one of the phone numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at: www.uwhealth.org/nutrition.

Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500.

Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770.