If you are anything like me, enjoying a treat every now and then is relaxing! However, determining which sugars and sweeteners are low in FODMAP can be difficult. This definitive guide to low FODMAP Sweeteners, Syrups & Sweets will help you pick the correct sweetening agent.
Before we begin, it is critical to note that only extra fructose is malabsorbed. This means that standard sugars and sweeteners with equal amounts of glucose and fructose are typically well-tolerated on the low FODMAP diet. Remember also that any sugar or sweetener should be consumed in moderation. So, for example, limit yourself to one piece of baking at a time!
Understanding Sugar And The Low FODMAP Diet
The first thing to understand is that when we talk about sugar and the low FODMAP diet, we are talking about “sucrose.”
Sucrose is a disaccharide, which is a fancy word for a chemical containing two molecules joined together. “Disaccharides” may sound familiar since they are the “D” in FODMAP. But, just like when people refer to lactose as a “disaccharide,” the low FODMAP diet only takes into account one disaccharide – lactose. So stay calm, my friend; we are still good!
The second thing you should know is that sucrose is composed of one glucose and one fructose molecule. Did your hair on the back of your neck stand up? Do not be alarmed, dear friend! I am here for you!
During the low FODMAP diet’s elimination phase, you are seeking two forms of fructose. Fructose that is floating around on its own (as in fruit or as a supplementary sweetener) and fructose that “exceeds glucose” are examples of the latter. Stated, that there is more fructose than glucose in a product (such as high fructose corn syrup).
The good news is that because sucrose is composed of equal parts glucose and fructose, it is low in FODMAP.
Beet Sugar (Low FODMAP)
Beet sugar is made from sugar beets and contains less than one percent FODMAP. This sugar is cultivated from sugar beet plants and is one of the most popular sources of table sugar (the second most common source being sugar cane). This substance consists of a 50/50 ratio of glucose and fructose, which means it can be eaten in moderation. Because beet sugar is a type of white refined Sugar, the low serving size of FODMAP would be two tablespoons.
Brown Sugar (Low FODMAP)
Brown sugar is a type of refined, crystalline sucrose combined with limited amounts of molasses that gives the sugar its brown color. This sugar is made by combining refined white sugar with traces of molasses. This results in brown sugar being a crystalline form of sucrose with small amounts of molasses added. According to Monash University’s research, one tablespoon of brown sugar is Low in FODMAP. Brown sugar has a wonderful rich taste and a slight caramel aftertaste.
Cane Sugar (Low FODMAP)
Cane sugar is made from sugar cane and accounts for the majority of white sugar produced. Because cane sugar is a type of white sugar, the suggested serving size is 1 tablespoon.
Coconut Sugar (Low FODMAP In Small Serves Only)
Coconut sugar is a different type of sugar extracted from the flower sap of the coconut palm, unlike palm sugar, which comes from the date palm (Carr, 2014). According to Monash University and FODMAP Friendly coconut sugar is low FODMAP in 1 teaspoon serves, but larger servings (3 teaspoons) are high FODMAP for fructans.
Coconut sugar is a good source of potassium and magnesium, as well as vitamin B2. Coconut sugar has inulin, which is a prebiotic that nourishes the bacteria in our guts. The gas produced by the bacteria when they ferment inulin creates Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. Inulin is classified as a fructan and has a high FODMAP level.
Common Table Sugar (Low FODMAP)
Table sugar, commonly known as refined sugar or granulated sugar, is a white crystal that occurs naturally in the human body and is used to sweeten baked goods and drinks. It is extracted from sugar cane or beet juice while it is being boiled. Sucrose is a disaccharide of fructose and glucose that has a crystalline structure.
Table sugar is a familiar sweetener that comes in various forms, including white sugar, raw sugar, caster sugar, and icing sugar (powdered confectioners’/sugar). When making icing with icing sugar, make sure it has not been refined with wheat products since this can be high FODMAP. One tablespoon of common table sugar has a low FODMAP serving size.
Dextrose (Low FODMAP)
Like other carbohydrates (sucrose, lactose), is a type of crystalline glucose formed from starch. Dextrose is low FODMAP because it is made from glucose.
Fruit sugar (High FODMAP)
Fructose, on the other hand, is frequently known as fruit sugar. We recommend avoiding any product that includes the word “fruit” in its ingredients.
Fructose (High FODMAP)
Excess fructose should be avoided, whether it is in the form of fructose isolate, fructose syrup, fructose, sugar, or crystalline fructose. Any ingredient containing the term “fructose” should be avoided since they will have an excessive amount of it.
Palm Sugar (Low FODMAP)
This is produced from the plant Palmyra palm, date palms (including sugar and date), Nipa palms, or Arenga pinnata or sugar palm. Palm sugar has low fructose levels which are between 10% and 20%, which is less than ordinary table sugar with a fructose level of 50%. This sugar differs from coconut sugar in that one tablespoon of palm sugar is considered low FODMAP by Monash University. Palm sugar has an earthy and nutty sweet aftertaste with a caramel flavor.
If Sugar Contains Fructose, Why Is It Low In FODMAP?
Sucrose, like all carbohydrates, is composed of two sugars: glucose and fructose (1 glucose + 1 fructose = 1 sucrose).
This is significant because glucose molecules are absorbed into the circulation via two distinct transporters: SGLT-2 and GLUT-1. Glucose and fructose molecules may be coupled together by the use of the GLUT-2 shuttle bus, allowing fructose to enter the circulation. When you consume meals with an equal proportion of glucose and fructose, your body absorbs this way.
Because there is not enough fructose to go around in your intestines, sucrose is considered low FODMAP. The sweet tooth rejoices!
How Much Sugar Can You Eat On The Low FODMAP Diet?
Is there a limitation to how much sugar you can eat on the low FODMAP diet if fructose is properly absorbed? Most sugars have a suggested serving size of 40-50 g or approximately 1/4 cup according to the Monash University app. However, this limit is determined by the current Australian guideline for diet, not by the FODMAP content.