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Five Healthier Alternatives to Sugar

Updated on February 5, 2020
Cafe latte alongside granulated sugar
Cafe latte alongside granulated sugar | Source

Five Healthier Alternatives to Sugar

There are several varieties of sweeteners on the market. While arguably most sweeteners are not extremely healthy for us or good for our teeth, some of them or healthier than others. In fact, some sweeteners even provide vitamins and nutrients.

Stevia and agave nectar are both popular sweetener choices. However, date sugar and maple syrup both deserve a second look, considering they contain important nutrients.

Ideally we would satiate our cravings for sweets with fruit rather than cookies and sugar-loaded beverages. Nonetheless, there are many sweeteners to choose from and it is a good idea to know which are the healthiest choices.

Maple Syrup
Maple Syrup | Source

Maple Syrup

The collection of maple syrup for consumption originated in North America. Quebec produces approximately 75% of the world’s maple syrup used today. Made from the sap of maple trees, maple syrup contains antioxidants, with 33% of the daily value of manganese in one tablespoon. Maple syrup also contains 6% of the daily value of zinc in one tablespoon, making it good for your immune system.

There are 52 calories, 13 grams of carbs, and 12 grams of sugar in one tablespoon of maple syrup. Maple syrup contains approximately 56% sucrose, 2% glucose, and 1% fructose.

Date Sugar

As its name suggests, date sugar is made from dry dates. Date sugar sustains very little processing. In fact, the only ingredient you need to make your own date sugar is dates!

Date sugar contains vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Date sugar may not be the ideal sweetener for beverages because it does not melt. Date sugar makes a good topping for oatmeal and toast.

There are 33 calories, 9 grams of carbs, and 9 grams of sugar in one tablespoon of date sugar.


Native to Paraguay, stevia has long been extracted from the leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant and used as a sweetener. Due to stevia’s potency, a very small amount will do the trick. In fact, stevia can be up to 300 times sweeter than sugar.

Stevia is popular among dieters, given that it is calorie free. Similarly, diabetics may appreciate that stevia has a low glycemic index rating. Stevia is not sugar and is considered by many to be the healthiest sweetener. Critics have raised issues thought to be caused by stevia such as reproductive problems, cancer causing compounds, and compromised metabolism. In addition, stevia has a bitter aftertaste.

Stevia is available as dried leaves, powdered extracts, and liquid concentrates. The color of powdered stevia is indicative of whether it has been processed. Dull green powder has not been processed, whereas white powder has been.

Stevia does not contain any calories, carbs, or sugars. Similarly, stevia does not contain fructose or glucose.

Agave Nectar

The agave plant is found primarily in Mexico and South Africa. Agave is approximately 1.5 times sweeter than sugar. Much controversy lies behind agave nectar. Advocates tout its low glycemic index while countless critics point to its high fructose content. Agave is processed and available in liquid form.

There are 60 calories, 16 grams of carbs, and 15 grams of sugar in one tablespoon of agave nectar. Agave nectar contains fructose (between approximately 55% and 90%) and glucose.

Monk Fruit

Monk fruit has been around for quite some time in China. It's a newer option in other regions, and worth a look!

Monk fruit, like stevia, is much sweeter than granulated sugar. In fact, it can range from 150-250 times sweeter. Made from the extract of the fruit, the sweetener is a great option with 0 calories and 0 sugar!


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