Surprising Vegetables High in Sugar
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 therefore affect the blood sugar faster is valuable information. The higher the glycemic index, the more sugar the food contains and the faster your blood sugar will feel the impact.
Vegetables provide a rich source of vitamins, minerals, water, antioxidants, 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. A high amount of water or fiber in vegetables typically goes hand in hand with naturally lower sugar and slower digestion by the body.
Another deceiving aspect of these vegetables is the serving size. Serving sizes are much smaller than you might think. If you’re eating raw, leafy vegetables, which typically have more water content, 1 cup is a serving. For all other vegetables, stick to 1/2-cup, the American Heart Association’s recommended serving size.
Onions have a reputation for being the most common vegetable on Earth. Their sugar content ranges from almost 4 grams to more than 5 grams of sugar. Green tops (4.95 grams) and sweet onions (5 grams) are among the varieties of onions to use in moderation due to their high sugar content.
The vitamin C content of chili peppers provides over 400 percent of the daily value per 100-gram serving, but they also contain 5 grams of sugar. Yellow, orange and red peppers, in contrast, taste sweet, but they only contain 2.4 grams of sugar.
Per 100-gram serving, these root vegetables contain upwards of 3.8 grams of sugar: parsnips, carrots, radishes, rutabaga, turnips and beets. Chicory root claims the highest value among root vegetables at 8.7 grams of sugar.
Starchy vegetables raise your blood sugar more than nonstarchy vegetables. Starchy vegetables are not bad for your health, but they generally contain more sugar than nonstarchy vegetables. The good news is that starchy vegetables contain fiber as well that will fill you up and make you feel fuller, 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. Examples of starchy vegetables include corn, potatoes, peas, and winter squash..
Of all food groups, vegetables are typically low in sugar, while being a great source of healthy vitamins and minerals. Despite this fact, you may want to be aware of how much sugar certain vegetables contain and be aware of the vegetables high in sugar.
Let’s take a closer look:
Sure, they’re great to snack on, but unfortunately, they pack more sugar than their equally crunchy counterparts. One medium raw carrot contains nearly 5 grams of sugar and 31 calories, while a stalk of celery provides close to 0 grams (0.4, to be exact) of sugar and 7 calories. Red and green bell peppers contain less sugar than carrots, too.
Corn and Peas
Starchy vegetables, corn and peas contain high amounts of carbohydrates and therefor are great examples of vegetables high in sugar. A half-cup serving of either corn or peas or a half corn cob provides 15 grams of carbohydrates. When eating mixed vegetables with corn or peas, a 1-cup serving is equal to 15 grams of carbohydrates. Each of these vegetables contains potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, phosphorus and folate. Eat peas and corn in moderation and use proper 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. These nutritious vegetables also provide you with significant amounts of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine and vitamins A, B-6, C and K. Snack on raw sugar snap peas; make a side of peas and mushrooms or peas and carrots; or add cooked peas to soups, curries or rice dishes.
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. A 100 gram (3.5 oz) portion of onions contains 9.3 grams of carbs, and 1.7 grams of fiber, so the total digestible carbohydrate content is 7.6 grams. Onions have been shown to have strong antioxidant properties, reduce inflammation and suppress the growth of harmful microorganism. Although more research is needed, some have concluded that onions have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. They may help fight infections, lower blood sugar, improve bone health and reduce the risk of several types of cancers.
Baked, boiled, mashed or (gasp!) French fried, the potato is a starchy vegetable that raises blood sugar levels fast. And most of us top our potatoes with cheese, butter, sour cream, bacon! and other dietary offenders. Just one medium baked potato without skin (156 g) has 2.7 grams of sugar and 145 calories. A better option: cauliflower. The same amount contains only 2.2 grams of sugar and 36 calories! Just steam, boil or bake the cauliflower, then mash or puree. Top with your favorite potato toppings and you’ll hardly notice the difference. Cauliflower — it’s also an excellent source of fiber. 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 on the carbohydrate list. 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 maintain normal blood sugar levels, or lose weight, avoid or limit your consumption of potatoes. If you wish to consume potatoes, you may want to soak them in cold water to remove some of their starch.
Just one-half cup of boiled beets serves up almost 7 grams of sugar! High in potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and dietary fiber, deep reddish-purple beets are fibrous and relatively sweet, ranking high on the carbohydrate scale. Each 1 cup of cooked beets contains approximately 15 grams of carbs. Beets can be made more sugary depending upon the method you use to prepare them. Cook them and eat them plain for the most health benefits without the added sugar.
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. If you want to minimize the amount of sugar you get from your tomatoes, try eating fresh tomatoes instead of canned. A cup of cooked fresh tomatoes contains 6 grams of sugar and a cup of raw cherry tomatoes provides 3.9 grams.
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 not only taste sweet but also rank as high-carbohydrate vegetables. A 1-cup portion of cooked winter squash or pumpkin contains 15 grams of carbohydrates, so eat only in moderation. Due to their vibrant orange, yellow and green color, these vegetables are high in beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant, as well as vitamins A, C and K, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Eat these vegetables sparingly.
Moderately high in carbohydrates, bean varieties include kidney, lentils, black, lima, pinto, navy, garbanzo, wax, green and butter beans. The sweeter the bean, the more sugar it contains. All beans contain protein, iron, calcium, dietary fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and folate. On average, one-half cup of beans contains 15 grams of carbohydrates. You should not eliminate beans from your diet as they provide your body with important minerals. You should balance them with other, less sugary 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)
Garlic (1 clove)
Lettuce — all kinds
Red-leaf chicory (Arugula)
Squashes — summer
Vegetables High In Sugar
Carrots – raw
Onion (1 oz.)
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.