The 6 Healthiest Sugar Alternatives

Sugar doesn't taste as sweet when you learn about its drawbacks. Here are six healthier sugar alternatives.
Healthy sugar alternatives

Sugar is a staple in many people’s diets, but its consumption has been linked to a range of negative health effects. While a small amount of natural sugar is fine, consuming too much of it can lead to a host of health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. The overconsumption of sugar has become a growing concern, with many people eating and drinking far more sugar than they realize. Whether you are trying to maintain good health or adopt a healthier lifestyle, understanding the negative effects of sugar is an important step. After discovering the negative effects of sugar, many people are looking for healthier alternatives. Here are six of the most popular sugar alternatives.

1. Stevia

A group of various types of both artificial and natural sweeteners including Splenda, Sweet n Low, Equal, Truvia, Stevia in the Raw, and plain sugar. All items are in single serve paper packets.

Stevia is a natural sweetener that is derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. It is calorie-free and up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, so only a small amount is needed to sweeten foods and drinks. Stevia has been shown to have a minimal effect on blood sugar levels and has been approved as a safe alternative to sugar by the FDA.

2. Erythritol

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that is 60 to 70% as sweet as sugar. It is low in calories, and unlike other sugar alcohols, it has minimal effects on blood sugar levels and does not cause digestive problems. Erythritol is also tooth-friendly and does not contribute to tooth decay.

Editor’s Note: After this article was published, a study came out documenting the potential dangers of consuming too much erythritol, including blood clotting, stroke, heart attack, and death. Please use this and other artificial sweeteners cautiously, and if you have any concerns, the best option is always to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider.

3. Xylitol

Xylitol is another sugar alcohol that is as sweet as sugar and has a similar taste and texture. It is also low in calories and has a minimal effect on blood sugar levels. Xylitol has been shown to have a prebiotic effect, promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria, and has been shown to be safe for people with diabetes.

It is important to note that sugar alcohols such as erythritol and xylitol may cause some people to experience digestive problems if they consume too much. These can include symptoms like bloating, gas, and diarrhea. On top of that, some sugar alcohols can have a laxative effect, which may be a problem for people who have IBS. 

However, this is not everyone’s experience. It’s best to try sugar alcohols to see how your body reacts to them before adding them into your daily life. Though if you suffer from IBS or other gut issues, it’s probably best to skip these sugar alternatives and opt for one of the others on this list. 

4. Honey

Selective shot of smiling young female food blogger and chef adding honey syrup on pancakes in modern kitchen

Honey is a natural sweetener that is made by bees from the nectar of flowers. It is higher in calories than other sugar alternatives, but it is a good source of antioxidants and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Honey has a lower glycemic index than sugar, which means it does not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels.

5. Maple syrup

Maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees and is a natural alternative to sugar. It is a good source of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins and has a lower glycemic index than sugar. Maple syrup also has a unique flavor that can be used to enhance the taste of various foods and drinks.

6. Coconut sugar

Coconut palm sugar in measuring spoons

Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut palm tree and is another natural alternative to sugar. It is minimally processed and retains some of the nutrients found in coconut sap, including iron, calcium, and potassium. Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than sugar and has a rich, caramel-like flavor that can be used to sweeten various foods and drinks.

Choosing Sugar Alternatives

If you can’t seem to quit consuming sugar, give one of these alternatives a try. There are many different types of sugar alternatives to choose from, including natural options like honey, stevia, and maple syrup, as well as sugar alcohols like erythritol and xylitol. Each alternative has its own unique benefits and flavor, so it is key to choose the one that best fits your needs and preferences.

It is important to keep in mind that while sugar alternatives can provide a healthier option compared to sugar, they are still a source of calories and should be consumed in moderation. It is also important to check food labels to determine the quantity of sugar alternatives in a food or drink and to limit your intake accordingly.

By choosing a sugar alternative, you can make a positive change to your diet and improve your overall health. Whether you are trying to lose weight, manage a chronic health condition, or simply want to feel better, reducing your sugar intake is an important step towards a healthier lifestyle.

Read More:

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