6 Healthy Sweeteners: All-Natural Sugar Substitutes

6 Healthy Sweeteners: All-Natural Sugar Substitutes

Can you indulge in your sweet tooth healthfully? Oh YES with these 6 healthy, all-natural sugar substitutes. Plus, learn which option didn’t make the list (spoiler: agave nectar!).


Ooh baby, do I have a sweet tooth.

Don’t we all?

But refined sugar is considered to be as addictive as a drug, and potentially as detrimental to your health.

And while there are a ton of sugar-free sweetener alternatives on the market — I’m talking about calorie-free, chemical “artificial sweeteners” here — they are even more unhealthy than just plain ol’ sugar! Many people turn to these artificial sweeteners thinking they will help them lose weight without sacrificing taste, but this is the one of the WORST food lies out there. If you have any of these around your home, please throw them away right now.

Did you do it?

I’m serious, I mean right now.

OK now that’s taken care of, let’s look at some healthy, natural sugar substitutes to turn to instead!

NOTE: Each of these healthier sweetener options — with the exception of stevia — is still high in natural sugars. So it’s important to consume them in moderation so as not to spike your blood sugar levels to unhealthy levels and set your body off that that “blood sugar roller coaster” that’s to blame for crazy sugar cravings, “hanger,” and that mid-afternoon energy slump.


6 Healthy Sweeteners: All-Natural Sugar Substitutes

Raw Honey

Naturally I put raw honey first — it’s only one of my favorite things in the whole wide world! Not only do I use it frequently in the kitchen, but raw honey also makes for a really awesome, single-ingredient face mask since. But we’re not talking skin here…

Raw honey has so many wonderful health benefits. It’s a natural antibacterial, boosts the immune system, promotes digestive health, and is high in antioxidants.

6 Healthy Sweeteners: All-Natural Sugar Substitutes | Raw Honey

Stevia

Stevia is probably one of the most well-known and popular natural sweeteners. The sweet leaves have been used by humans for hundreds of years and by diabetic patients in Asia for decades.

While it is not a significant source of nutrition, the great thing about stevia is that it will not affect blood sugar levels at all, making it a great all-natural sugar alternative for diabetics. It is also calorie-free.

I’m a personal fan of this liquid stevia, which is a whole-leaf extract and does not contain any other ingredients. Powdered stevia, on the other hand, contains unnecessary fillers. Best yet, the liquid extract is super-duper sweet — just a drop will do ya!

Coconut sugar

Coconut sugar contains traces of iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium, we well as antioxidants. It also contains a fiber called inulin, which may slow glucose absorption.

Coconut sugar tastes like brown sugar more so than white sugar. I particularly like it for baking, since it does not affect the consistency of the final product, unlike maple syrup and molasses. However, I do not find it sweet enough for tea or coffee.

6 Healthy Sweeteners: All-Natural Sugar Substitutes | Coconut sugar

Pure Maple Syrup

Nope, not the kind with the bottle shaped like a jolly old woman. That’s not real maple syrup — check the ingredient list an you’ll see it’s mostly high fructose corn syrup with some artificial colorings, flavors, and sweeteners.

Pure maple syrup, on the other hand, contains only evaporated maple tree sap. It is high in manganese and zinc: 100 grams of syrup provides 22% and 3.7% of their RDVs respectively. Manganese is necessary for several enzymes that are needed for energy production and antioxidant defenses. Zinc is essential for optimal immune system function. Deficiencies of either may lower white blood cell counts and reduce immune system responses.

Dried Dates & Date Sugar

Dried dates are basically nature’s candy. (Fun fact: one of my favorite things in the world is a dried date with almond butter! SO GOOD.) They’re a great addition to certain recipes like homemade granola bars and smoothies to add some sweetness.

Date sugar is essentially just dried dates pulverized into a powder. Since it doesn’t melt, date sugar can’ be used as a direct substitute for sugar. So for example, you wouldn’t want to put it in your coffee. That being said, it’s GREAT for baking — use just 2/3 the amount of date sugar in place of brown or white sugar called for in your recipe. It may otherwise be too sweet!

6 Healthy Sweeteners: All-Natural Sugar Substitutes | Dried Dates and Date Sugar

Molasses

Molasses is a thick syrup produced when the sugar cane plant is processed to make refined sugar. But unlike refined sugar, molasses carries some significant health benefits. One serving (2 tablespoons) of molasses has about 30% of the daily iron requirement for premenopausal women, as well as 14% of our RDV of copper, an important trace mineral whose peptides help rebuild the skin structure that supports healthy hair.It is also high in vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, and antioxidants.

Be sure to select unsulfured, organic sugarcane molasses.


One natural sweetener that didn’t make the list: agave nectar.

This syrupy sweetener does have a low-glycemic index, but that’s just because it’s mostly fructose, the most damaging form of sugar. In fact, agave nectar has the highest fructose content of any commercial sweetener on the market — yes, even high fructose corn syrup!

According to Healthline:

“Agave nectar may just be the unhealthiest sweetener in the world. It makes regular sugar look healthy in comparison.”

Now that’s a very bold statement.


Enjoy indulging your sweet tooth healthfully with these natural sugar substitutes!

healthy sweeteners natural sugar substitutes

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  1. Thank you for your response. I’m not a fan of them, but know a lot of people who are. I’ve been hesitant to use it, but I couldn’t put my finger on the reason why. That article confirmed my suspicions that it isn’t healthy.

  2. This list is great, Nadia! I love that you’ve shared so many subs that I can actually find in the grocery without having to dig through health food stores. thanks so much. Pinned, pinned, and pinning again.

  3. What about Splenda? It’s not artificial, but I know it’s processed… I haven’t come across much about Splenda (for or against) on blogs like yours…

  4. No, please don’t say that stevia does not affect your blood sugar… It drops it. This can be dangerous for hypoglycemics and diabetics… Please change this post to reflect this information.

  5. Hi, Elizabeth. I have never heard of this before and could not find any articles online. Do you have any links to articles you could share with me? I’d appreciate it.

  6. Nadia, so xylitol is a no-no? yet is has beneficial properties on the dental health!
    I would not bake with it, or use it as a 1;1 sugar substitute in larger amounts! However, i do add it to my home made toothpaste as well as make my salad dressing with it ( less than half a teaspoon , just to enhance the flavor – or to help my teeth, which ever case) It tends to work better than honey – which makes salad dressing too sweet for me. Like i say: every thing in moderation, i would not use it in baking!
    going to check out Crunchy Betty now 🙂

  7. Hi there,
    I was wondering, besides Stevia, if there was a diabetic-friendly alternative to sugar. I am recently diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, and of course, the baby wants nothing but sweet. The problem is that i am NOT going to eat artificial sweeteners because they are not natural. I have my whole diet figured out except the sugar part. Help please!

    Thanks

  8. Hey, Sarah! Well 1) congrats on the new addition to your family! And 2) I’m sorry to hear that and am proud of you for looking into natural options. As far as I know, Stevia is unique in that it doesn’t have any effect on blood sugar levels. Have you given it a try? It is very sweet!

  9. Hi expecting Sarah,
    don’t forget to cut refined carbs while you look for a good natural sweetener. Depending on your usual sweet intake cutting back/out sugar may not be all that hard, but all refined carbs (breads, pasta) will increase your blood sugar level as well.
    I think Stevia is a wonderful option, though personally I cannot hack it, it really is too sweet for me, even a little bit (I may try the leaves yet to see how they are). I would recommend to increase your protein intake and use fruit for the sweet cravings (sour apples, sour cherries etc rather than bananas and really sweet fruits)
    all the best for you and the baby!

  10. I will celebrate my DOB of 80 years this Sept. I just told I had type pre diabetes. Now I have to learn how to cook for myself not 5 or 6 people. I will be searching for healthy recipe and menu’s. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  11. Thank you for this article… I was wondering what’s your take on granulated fructose… the question popped up in the comments but I couldn’t find an answer… It would be great to get some info. 🙂

  12. I would never buy the stuff. Fructose has been shown to have more of an effect on glucose levels and cause more inflammation than glucose, but at least fructose from fruit has fiber to show absorption and vitamins and minerals to temper the effect. Granulated fructose doesn’t have that. Plus how the heck do they make it?? It’s a processed food. Best to always stick to REAL foods you can find in nature!

  13. You state that powdered stevia contains unnecessary fillers. Are those unnecessary fillers actually unhealthy, or are they simply unnecessary?

  14. You mention that powdered Stevia has unnecessary fillers. Are those unnecessary fillers unhealthy or simply unnecessary? Do you know anything more about the fillers?

    Thank you!

  15. At 51 (oh so young), it is time to completely cut out sugar, as much as can be done. I suspect that raw honey and pure Canadian Maple surrup may be the better alternatives to anything processed. With eczema, my homoeopathy doctor indicated that a yeast infection had reduced the kidney filter, and yeast and sugar products would create more eczema. Too much refined sugar for too long. This post has been helpful in making a decision as to what sources I should choose from.

  16. So glad to hear it! Just remember that it’s still important to consume these natural sweeteners in moderation since they still cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels.

  17. Hi Nadia, I have enjoyed reading your blog articles and have a question I hope you can answer. There’s a new sugar substitute on the market called Just Like Sugar. It is made of chicory root and orange peel. I am on a strict no-sugar diet (to combat candida) and was told Stevia was something I could use without any harmful chemicals remaining in the product from processing (like Xylitol) as long as I use the green leaves or green powder. I am wondering if Just Like Sugar would be a good sugar substitute as well, like Stevia, with no potential negative health effects?​ I have researched it online, but could not find any third-party reliable reports on the product, so am still skeptical. I would value your opinion. Thank you!

  18. Hi, Nancy. Sorry for the belated reply – I put this on the back burner because I had never heard of this product and wanted to research it a bit more (and then it kind of slipped my mind!!). Have you wound up trying it by this point?

    I’m still not sure! I personally use and love stevia and so don’t think I’d ever use this. BUT Based on the ingredients, it looks pretty good.

    P.S. Your art is AMAZING!

  19. Thank you! I’m curious about which sugar from this list might harden the best for peanut brittle?

  20. As I’ve cut my refined sugars intake, and increased my water intake, I’ve noticed a spike in my energy. However, now that we are into winter, drinking hot liquids is what’s really helping me stay hydrated. But usually I like them sweet… I used to reach for sugar, but now I have enjoyed stevia in my chai tea with almond milk. If I had my way, I’d drink 3 hot drinks a day and 3 packets of stevia a day!! What do you think? Is that dangerous??

  21. I’m an avid oatmeal eater every morning for breakfast. I love the stuff. But which is better Stevia or Brown sugar?

  22. Great recommendations! Honey is as healthy for you as it is sweet:). Wish I could use it, but I seem to be allergic/sensitive to it. I agree agave nectar isn’t good for you. I tend to opt for either maple syrup or dates.

  23. Carol, the Whole Foods 365 brand certified organic liquid stevia is great! If you have a WF locally I suggest picking up a bottle 🙂

  24. I’ve used all of these at some point but stevia is my go-to most of the time now. We are also fortunate enough to produce our own mineral-rich maple syrup!