Sweet food can boost your mood and energy levels, and not just because of the sugar! Many of us associate it with reward and celebration, like eating your favorite dessert after a hard day, or blowing out candles on a birthday cake.
This list of 16 of the sweetest food in the world includes fresh fruits, baked goods, and other popular ways to get a sugar fix. You’ll see that there are many ways to satisfy your sweet tooth—and some of them are even healthy, too.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the carabao mango is the sweetest fruit in the world. When you bite into its juicy, pulpy flesh, the sweetness explodes in your mouth.
However, this fruit can be a healthy indulgence. It has a lot of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E. In fact, one slice of mango is enough to meet nearly 70% of your body’s daily vitamin C requirements.
See Also: How to Ripen a Mango
While the mango tastes the sweetest, dates have the highest sugar content. It has 73 grams of sugar—nearly four times more than bananas, and figs, and persimmons.
That’s why ancient travelers would pack a small bag of dates when they would go on a long journey. Eating just a few pieces would help energize them for the next few miles. Today, chopped dates are often added to energy bars.
Who can resist a sweet, juicy grape? These are like Mother Nature’s natural candies. However, a cup of grapes is already 23 grams of sugar, so don’t be tempted to finish off the whole bunch in one sitting. Instead, slice them and add to a salad, for extra flavor and color.
Summers wouldn’t be complete without biting into chilled slices of watermelon. It is sweet, juicy, and refreshing—plus it also has electrolytes, which helps your body fight dehydration. It’s much healthier and cheaper than drinking Gatorade.
See Also: Watermelon Popsicle Recipe
5. Sweet corn
While there are many kinds of sweet fruits, we can’t ignore the sweet vegetables! On top of the list is sweet corn – the beloved side dish of summer barbecues.
The sweetness comes from a gene mutation which affected the conversion of sugar into starch. To maximize its sweetness, farmers harvest the corn before they mature and then either sell it the same day or freeze it before kernels develop more starch.
6. Japanese sweet potatoes
These naturally sweet and creamy potato is a favorite dessert in Asia. It has a red skin and a pale meat which becomes a beautiful yellow when it is cooked. It is typically steamed, or baked on low heat to allow its natural sugars to deepen and caramelize.
There are thousands of candy varieties in the world, in every shape and color. But all of them have one thing in common: a lot of sugar. Pixy Stix and Nerds are actually 90% sugar—the other ingredients are just binders.
The origins of candy date way back to around 1500 BC. Egyptians, Greeks and Chinese would mix figs and nuts with honey and spices. The Indians are credited for discovering hard candy, when they discovered that they could extract the juice from sugar cane and boil it down to a solid block of hard brown sugar.
Modern manufacturers now use a wide variety of sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup, molasses, maple sugar, or even artificial sweeteners. To make sugar-free candy still taste sweet, they use sugar alcohols like isomalt, maltitol, and sorbitol, or other compounds like saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame.
Americans eat over 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate a year—and that’s just chocolate bars or candy. It doesn’t include chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, or the other ways it’s used in pastries and desserts.
Chocolate is made from roasted cacao beans that are mixed with cocoa butter and some sweeteners. Dark chocolate—which has a sweet but slightly bitter taste—only has cocoa butter and sugar. Milk chocolate has cocoa butter, sugar and milk. White chocolate doesn’t even have chocolate: it’s made cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla.
Ruby chocolate, which was introduced in 2018, uses ruby cacao beans. Unlike the other chocolate varieties, it has a natural fruity, berry-like flavor.
Aside from being really delicious, chocolate has some surprising health benefits. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, an antioxidant that can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. There are also recent studies that show that it can improve your brain function—improving attention, memory, and verbal learning skills.
All cakes are sweet because sugar plays an important role in the batter. Aside from adding sweetness and flavor, the sugar creates air bubbles that help the cake rise. It also attracts moisture, which will make it fluffy and moist. (Nobody likes a dry cake.)
Some cakes will incorporate other sweet ingredients, like molasses and honey, chocolate, dried fruits, caramelized nuts, etc. And of course, there’s the sugar in the icing.
Every culture in the world has their own unique cakes: the Italian chestnut cake Castagnaccio, the Czech Valašský frgál which looks like a pizza with sweet toppings, the French souffle, the German black forest cherry cake, the Chinese mooncake, the Australian pavlova, etc.
Sometimes the cakes are ingrained in historical traditions—like the King Cake served during Epiphany, or the wedding cakes and the surrounding rituals of cutting it and saving a slice to eat on your anniversary.
10. Cookies and bars
While essentially made of similar ingredients to cakes, cookies are shaped individually, while bars are baked in a pan and cut into squares. These are usually denser than a cake, and equally addictive.
It would be impossible to list all the different kinds of cookies in the world; there are hundreds of versions of chocolate chip cookies alone, and various brownie recipes that will make it either fudgy or cakey.
However, they all have one thing in common: you can never have just one!
11. Rice cakes
In many Asian countries, sticky rice is mixed with sugar, coconut milk, and other flavorings to make very sweet, filling desserts. Sometimes, food coloring is added to the rice paste to make it look more festive.
Some of the rice cakes are steamed, while others are wrapped in banana leaves. Traditionally, the rice cakes are traditionally served during weddings, harvests, and lunar new year celebrations, since they symbolize prosperity and luck.
In Japan, rice cakes called namagashi are delicately shaped by hand to form beautiful edible works of art. In China, the rice cakes are fried to become a crunchy, sweet pancake. In the Philippines, rice cakes called suman are wrapped in banana leaves and steamed, then served with yellow mango and coconut syrup.
There are hundreds of other varieties in other countries too—proving the versatility of rice, and the ingenuity of the cooks.
You can’t have a list of the sweetest food in the world without including pastries. Think eclairs, profiteroles, danishes, baklava, cinnamon rolls, strudels…. we could go on.
The word pastry actually comes from the dough that is made with flour and fat. There are four kinds: short crust, filo, choux, flaky, and puff.
For example, pies and tarts have a buttery short crust and a sweet filling (typically made of fruits, nuts, or a thick custard). Turnovers are basically folded up pies, and are usually made of puff pastry dough. Choux pastry is used to make cream puffs, profiteroles, croquembouche, and more.
13. Ice cream
Commercial ice cream is made from sugar, milk and milk solids, cream and other flavorings. The result? Magic. You get a big spoonful of sweetness that melts in your mouth.
Ice cream is delicious (and sweet) on its own, but there are ways to make it even sweeter. You can get ice cream cake, add bananas and syrup to make a banana split, or mix it with milk, chocolate, or sweet fruits for a milkshake. And if you have vanilla ice cream, of course you need to go get apple pie.
Go big, or go home!
See Also: Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Flavors
14. Jams and jellies
Jams are preserved fruits that have been cooked in a lot of sugar. This is spread on bread or crackers, or folded into puff pastry or tart crust and then baked.
Jams are usually very sweet because the sugar helps create the right consistency and helps retain the fruits’ colors. Also, most fruits that are used for jams are already overripe, so they already have a natural sweetness to it.
Jellies, on the other hand, are made from fruit juice and pectin. That is why they have a clear consistency, and can hold their shape
15. Fruit juices and smoothies
We hate to tell the people on a diet, but those natural juices and smoothies have a lot of sugar and calories.
But while they’re not going to help with your calorie count, they can deliver a lot of vitamins and minerals in a single glass. And if you need a big energy boost, the sugars in the drink will wake you up even better than a cup of coffee.
16. Sweet coffees
Some of the coffees served in Starbucks and other cafes are actually sweeter than the pastries they sell. Aside from adding sugar, they also put syrups… and sometimes, chocolate chunks and sprinkles. It’s more of a liquid dessert, rather than a drink.
But they are, admittedly, very delicious and one of the best ways to wake up. If the caffeine won’t give you a jolt, the sugar will.
Fruits, vegetables, desserts…. oh my! There are so many ways to indulge your sweet tooth. But remember, eat everything in moderation. Too much sugar can be bad for you. Save some dessert for tomorrow. At least you have something to look forward to.