Beware of hidden sugar in your veggies!
While most vegetables are generally low in sugar and carbohydrates, there are some vegetables high in sugar.
Vegetables are good for your health, but some of them contain high levels of sugar. Knowing which vegetables have a high glycemic index number (vegetables high in sugar) and which one’s affect the blood sugar faster is valuable information. The more sugar the food contains and the faster your blood sugar will feel the impact.
According to LiveStrong.com, vegetables provide a rich source of water, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and dietary fiber. While vegetables typically rank low in calories, fat and sugar, there are certain vegetables high in sugar, meaning that they provide more calories and carbohydrates. The more water or fiber in a particular vegetable typically means it’s naturally lower sugar and is digested slower by the body.
Another deceiving aspect of these vegetables is the serving size. The serving sizes for vegetables are probably much smaller than you think. If you’re eating raw, leafy vegetables, 1 cup is a serving. For all other vegetables, the serving size is usually 1/2-cup, which is the American Heart Association’s recommended serving size.
So, as you go through this list of high sugar veggies, keep in mind, I’m not saying don’t eat them at all. Vegetables are a much better choice than a majority of foods you can find at any supermarket. Just because these vegetables are high in sugar, doesn’t mean that they don’t have many other nutritional benefits. So here’s a list of high sugar veggies along with their health benefits.
Onions (Bulb vegetables)
An onion’s sugar content ranges from almost 4 grams to more than 5 grams of sugar. Green onions (4.95 grams) and sweet onions (5 grams) should be eaten in lower quantities because of their high sugar content.
Carbohydrates make up about 9-10% of both raw and cooked onions. They consist mostly of simple sugars, such as glucose, fructose and sucrose, as well as fibers. The total digestible carb content is 7.6 grams.
Onions do have nutritional value. They have strong antioxidant properties, reduce inflammation and suppress the growth of harmful microorganism. They may help fight infections, lower blood sugar, improve bone health and reduce the risk of several types of cancers. All good things!(2)
Carrots (Root Vegetables)
Carrots have more sugar than most crunchy vegetables. One medium raw carrot contains almost 5 grams of sugar and 31 calories. A stalk of celery provides close to 0 grams of sugar and 7 calories. (2)
I know carrots and celery don’t taste the same but it could be a better option limit carrots in your diet if you’re serious about losing weight.
Beets (Another Root Vegetable)
Just one-half cup of boiled beets serves up almost 7 grams of sugar! High in dietary fiber, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium, deep reddish-purple beets are pretty sweet, and have a high carb count. Each 1 cup of cooked beets has about 15 grams of carbs. Cook them and eat them plain for the most health benefits. (3)
Starchy vegetables are not bad for your health, but they generally contain more sugar than non-starchy vegetables. On the other hand, starchy vegetables contain fiber that will fill you up and make you feel fuller for longer. If you’re counting carbs or you are a diabetic, beware that these vegetables contain more sugar than leafy, green vegetables, which contain more water. Starchy vegetables include corn, potatoes, peas, and winter squash.
Starchy vegetables, like corn, contain a high amount of carbohydrates which are generally high in sugar. A half-cup serving of corn, or a half corn cob has 15 grams of carbohydrates. Corn has vitamin A, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and folate. If you eat corn, just watch your portion sizes.
Peas are another sugary vegetable, with 9.5 grams of sugar and 8.8 grams of fiber in each 1-cup serving of boiled green peas. The upside is that peas provide you with significant amounts of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine and vitamins A, B-6, C and K. (2)
Baked, boiled, mashed or fried, the potato is a starchy vegetable that raises blood sugar levels fast. Just one medium baked potato without skin (156 g) has 2.7 grams of sugar and 145 calories. Rich in potassium, magnesium and dietary fiber, potatoes rank as one of the most sugary vegetables. Sweet potatoes and yams contain vitamin A and C but are also high in carbs. A half-cup serving of mashed potato, or one-quarter of a large baked potato, sweet potato or yam, is equivalent to 15 grams of carbohydrates. If you are trying to lose weight, avoid or limit potatoes. (2)
While the sugar content of a cup of tomatoes depends on how they are prepared, a cup of canned tomato puree provides you with 12.1 grams of sugar and 4.8 grams of fiber. Canned pureed tomatoes are also good sources of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, niacin, riboflavin and vitamins A, B-6, C, E and K. Eating fresh tomatoes instead of canned is a good choice if you’re trying to minimize the amount of sugar you’re eating. A cup of cooked fresh tomatoes contains 6 grams of sugar and a cup of raw cherry tomatoes provides 3.9 grams. (4)
Chili peppers are another vegetable high in sugar. Although they have 5 grams of sugar, the vitamin C content of chili peppers provides over 400 percent of the daily value per 100-gram serving. That’s amazing!
Yellow, orange and red peppers, taste sweet, but they only contain 2.4 grams of sugar. Might be a better option!
Winter squash includes butternut, acorn, spaghetti, carnival and hubbard squash varieties. Lower in sugar, yellow squash and zucchini contain less sugar per serving. Winter squash and pumpkin are also high in carbs. A 1-cup portion of cooked winter squash or pumpkin contains 15 grams of carbohydrates, so eat only in moderation.
Winter squash does have it’s benefits. They’re high in beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant, as well as potassium, vitamins A, C and K, magnesium and phosphorus.
Another group of veggies to limit!
Beans are also high in sugar. This includes kidney, lentils, black, lima, pinto, navy, garbanzo, wax, green and butter beans. The sweeter the bean, the more sugar it has. All beans contain protein, iron, dietary fiber, magnesium, folate, phosphorus, potassium and calcium. On average, a half cup of beans has 15 grams of carbohydrates. Don’t eliminate beans from your diet as they provide your body with important minerals. You should balance them with other, low sugar vegetables.
And finally here’s a more comprehensive list of vegetables high in sugar vs. low in sugar:
Vegetables Low In Sugar
Bell pepper (sweet green)
Cabbage — all kinds
Celeriac (celery root, knob celery)
Lettuce — all kinds
Red-leaf chicory (Arugula)
Squashes — summer
Vegetables High In Sugar
Carrots – raw
Potatoes in all forms
Winter Squashes (particularly acorn and butternut)
Regardless of the sugar content, be sure to eat your veggies! They’re a much better choice than many alternatives.