Ten Alternatives to Sugar


Sugar: The New Crack

These are the headlines we are reading on an almost daily basis now and rightfully so. Recent studies are finding that foods with a high glycemic index (think corn syrup, white breads, cookies) can trigger cravings and tweak parts of your brain that are linked to addiction. Here’s a list of ten alternatives to sugar for your use in the kitchen…

Just like swapping out white bread for whole grain bread, try swapping out processed white sugar for low-processed and low-glycemic counterparts.

1. Coconut Palm Sugar – 35 Glycemic Index

Coconut palm sugar has a lower glycemic index than sugar and a lot of micronutrients – rich in potassium, zinc, magnesium and B-vitamins. However, it does have the same amount of calories.

Uses: Interchangeable with table sugar. You can use it in everything.

2. Agave – 30 Glycemic Index

Agave is made from the sap of the cactus plant. It has a similar taste to honey and is 1.5 times as sweet as sugar. It has an extremely low glycemic, however is higher in calories and fructose than sugar.

Uses: Can be used in baked goods, granola, cereal. Use 2/3 cup for every 1 cup of sugar the recipe calls for

3. Stevia – 0 Glycemic Index

Stevia is an herb found in South America. It has a slight aftertaste if you use to much of it and requires a bit of getting used to. Stevia is extremely sweet and takes some trial and error on how much to use.

Uses: Can be used in most anything, including baking.

4.  Lacuma – 25 Glycemic Index

Lacuma comes from the Peruvian tubar or fruit called Lacuma. It is rich in minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, beta carotene and fiber. It has a similar flavor to maple syrup.

Uses: Replace with anything calling for brown sugar. Use a 1:1 ration for baking.

5. Raw Honey – 30 Glycemic Index

Honey has more calories than table sugar, but it’s less processed and is rich in antixidents, amino acids, minerals and phytomutrients.

Uses: Sweeten tea, coffee, smoothies, cereals.

6. Maple Syrup – 58 Glycemix Index

Maple syrup is not the healthiest alternative to sugar, but like honey, it is less processed and does not trigger a blood glucose spike like sugar does.

Uses: Cereals, sauces, baking. For baking use 3/4 cup per 1 cup of sugar.

7. Yacon – 1 Glycemic Index

Extracted from the South American tuber, Yacon. It has half the calories, a high amount of inulin – a complex sugar that breaks down slowly. It is also considered a prebiotic. Similar to Agave in flavor and sweetness.

Uses: Interchangeable: 2/3 cup per 1 cup sugar

8. Brown Rice Syrup – 28 Glycemic Index

Made from boiled brown rice. It is very sweet with a similar flavor to butterscotch. Brown rice syrup is another example of a sweetener that’s a better option than sugar but not the best.

Uses: Everything but light deserts. 1 1/4 cup per 1 cup of sugar

9. Date Sugar – 68 Glycemic Index

Date sugar is made from dehydrated, ground dates, so it retains all of the nutritional benefits of dates. It looks and tastes like brown sugar but slightly sweeter.

Uses: Keep in mind that it does not dissolve. 2/3 cup per 1 cup of sugar.

10. Barley Malt Syrup – 42 Glycemic Index

A protein-rich and easily digestable sugar alternative. It is similar to molasses, while not as sweet as sugar or honey. It is considered to be one of the healthiest sweeteners by natural foodies.

Uses: Bakiing recipes for BBQ sauce, spice cakes, muffins, whole grain and dark breads. 1 1/3 cup per 1 cup sugar.

Image via David Eccles

About The Author 

Susan is a classically trained chef with a bachelors degree in Culinary Management from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute and also received further dietary culinary training while at The Hilton Head Health Institute. Susan is also certified as a Sports Nutritionist, Personal Fitness Chef and Personal Trainer. She started My Cuisine Coach and Healthy Meal Coach as way to help people learn how to cook healthy and great tasting food!!


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