What Foods Have Zero (or Low) Sugar?

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The Hierarchy of Carbs, from Worst To Best

1. Foods containing added sugar. Sweets such as lollies, pastries, sweetened drinks (high-sugar energy and sports drinks), sweetened foods (such as yogurt with fruit on the bottom).

2. Refined grains. White bread (and other low-fiber breads), white rice, pasta, crackers, bagels, baked goods.

3. Whole grains/starches. Brown rice, oats, whole-grain bread, quinoa.

4. Fruit. Apples, bananas, peaches, pineapples, pears, berries, etc.

5. Starchy vegetables. Carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, squash, beets, etc.

6. Green vegetables. Asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, Brussels sprouts, etc.


Eliminating sugary foods doesn’t have to mean cutting out all snacks and desserts. You can swap foods from the lower levels of the spectrum in for the ones on the higher rungs to avoid hunger and ease temptation. For example, start substituting strawberries for Starbursts. If you usually eat cheeseburgers and drink sugar drink at lunch, try switching to burgers in whole-grain buns or lettuce wraps and sip on sparkling water.

What Foods Have Zero (or Low) Sugar?

Refer back to the carb hierarchy above and you’ll see that vegetables, particularly greens, have little to no sugar, so they’re always a safe bet when you’re hungry. Of course foods such as—meats, fish, eggs, cheeses, avocados, and other foods rich in protein and fat—are sugar-free. Below is a short list of no- to low-sugar options.

  • Animal proteins (beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, etc.)

  • Unrefined oils (avocado, coconut, olive, etc.)

  • Butter, ghee, cheese

  • Avocado

  • Eggplant

  • Green beans

  • Kelp noodles

  • Zucchini noodles

  • Mushrooms

  • Spinach

  • Watercress

  • Radish

  • Kale

  • Celery

  • Broccoli

  • Bell pepper

  • Cucumber

  • Asparagus

  • Tomato

  • Mustard

  • Coffee

  • Tea

  • Watermelon

  • Lemons/limes

  • Whole milk

  • Berries