Disaccharides form when two separate sugar molecules, or monosaccharides, fuse together to form one molecule. Disaccharides are often called double sugars. There are many forms of disaccharides, but the most well known and commonly occurring are sucrose, maltose, and lactose. Sucrose is the table sugar we add to our coffee and cereal. Lactose is milk sugar, and maltose is malt sugar. In moderation, these simple carbohydrates are an important part of a balanced diet and contribute to the body’s ability to regulate temperature and energy levels, as well as mood.
Milk, Cheese, and Yogurt
Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are high in lactose. One molecule of glucose and one molecule of galactose fuse together to form lactose, which has a less sweet taste than other disaccharides and tends to digest rather slowly. Slower digestion promotes a feeling of fullness and satisfaction.
Ice cream is generally high in both lactose and sucrose. When enjoyed in moderation, ice cream can be a great source of sugars the body naturally craves. When it comes to ice cream, the fewer ingredients, the better. People should also avoid any ice cream that contains a lot of artificial flavors or high-fructose corn syrup.
Any food or beverage fermented by yeast or other enzymes contains maltose. Maltose forms when two molecules of glucose fuse together. Beer is high in this particular sugar, which digests fairly slowly and can regulate blood sugar levels. When consumed in moderation, maltose boasts many other health benefits including reducing the risk of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and kidney stones.
Cooked Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index. This makes them a great food for those with irregular blood sugar levels. When cooked, the glucose molecules within sweet potatoes fuse to form maltose. This root vegetable is also a fantastic source of nutrients and vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin B, copper, potassium, and dietary fiber.
Milk chocolate is a great source of lactose, and when sweetened naturally, can also be a good source of sucrose. Of course, however, not all chocolate is created equal. To reap the benefits of these natural sugars, it is important to look for chocolate that contains simple ingredients. Avoid additives such as artificial flavor and color, as well as high-fructose corn syrup. As a bonus, chocolate itself is rich in antioxidants, which help to prevent aging and a range of illness including cancer. Dark chocolate offers more of these healing compounds than milk.
Bread contains yeast, which creates maltose when fermented. It also typically contains small amounts of lactose and sucrose, depending on the recipe used to prepare it. Quickbreads and muffins usually contain sugar and lactose in higher amounts, while the amount of maltose in quickbread is lower due to the lack of yeast.
Fruit Punch and Fruit-Flavored Juices
Fruit punch and other fruit-flavored juices often have a lot of added sugar and don’t generally represent a healthy choice. Naturally sourced or freshly squeezed juices do not have additional sweeteners, but they still contain very concentrated amounts of natural sugar, and it is easy to ingest more sugar than intended when drinking juice.
Malted milkshakes, often called old-fashioned milkshakes, are made from ice cream that has been made with maltose. Maltose is also known as malt sugar. These milkshakes are a great source of sucrose as well. Of course, any milkshake or ice cream treat should be enjoyed in moderation, as the high fat and sugar contents can be hazardous if consumed too often.
Depending on the variety, salad dressing may be rich in multiple disaccharides. Creamy dressings are high in both lactose and sucrose, while vinegarettes are generally not a source of lactose but are high in sucrose. This of course, only applies to salad dressings that are not low calorie or sugar-free. Use these products only in moderation, though; too much added sugar in salad dressing is not good for you.
Breakfast cereals are consistently high in sucrose. Whether it is a healthier whole-grain breakfast cereal or a sugary cereal marketed to children, sucrose is present. The best choice, of course, is to opt for a whole grain cereal that is not full of artificial flavors and colors or high-fructose corn syrup. Choose a cereal with a low sugar content, as indicated by the nutritional information on the box.