Best & Worst Sugar Alternatives

Who doesn’t love a sweet treat? I certainly do (if you know me, this comes as no surprise)! Over the past 3 or 4 years, I’ve done my best to switch from utilizing white sugar to seeking out natural sweeteners as much as possible. But at some point I had to ask the question, “What are the best & worst sugar alternatives?”

Knowing which sweetener alternatives to switch to can be challenging since many companies now create products that seem to be healthier, but aren’t actually that much better than white sugar. The key when it comes to sugar is going for as natural as possible…and always in moderation!⁠

Let’s chat all things sweeteners. Why are many alternative sweeteners so bad for you? Which ones are the best to use? What are the health benefits of natural sweeteners? We’ll answer all of those questions and more in this blog post! The hope is that you’ll leave feeling more confident about which sweeteners to avoid and which to seek out.

The Best & Worst Sugar Alternatives

Why Are Alternative Sweeteners So Harmful?

It’s apparent in the research that these are not the healthiest sweeteners you should grab. Zero-calorie sweeteners can contribute to more sugar cravings (encouraging you to go back to the sweets in the pantry). Plus, most of them are filled with chemicals.

Fake sugars can alter your gut microbiome, causing the healthy bacteria in your gut like E.coli (which is actually needed for optimal health), to turn into harmful bacteria and become pathogenic.

Over time, these sweeteners can create an imbalance in the gut microbiome and lead to harmful digestive issues such as diarrhea, bloating, stomach pain, nausea, and discomfort after eating meals.

The Worst Sugar Alternatives:

  • NutraSweet⁠
  • Aspartame⁠
  • Equal⁠
  • Splenda⁠
  • Xylitol ⁠
  • Sucralose⁠
  • Sweet ‘N Low⁠
  • Sugar alcohols ⁠

The Best Sugar Alternatives to Use:

  • Pure maple syrup⁠
  • Raw honey⁠
  • Coconut sugar⁠
  • Dates/date paste⁠
  • Fruit

Pure Maple Syrup

Real, organic maple syrup is one of the healthiest natural sweeteners you can swap in and it tastes delicious. The health benefits are also significantly better than plain table sugar. Pure maple syrup contains antioxidants that help reduce inflammation.

Raw Honey

Raw honey is one of my favorite healthy sweeteners because it contains enzymes, minerals, and vitamins. It’s important to note to use raw honey because once it gets pasteurized, all those health benefits significantly decrease.

Bonus: consuming raw honey from your local area can also aid in building your immune system against common allergens in your area.

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is made from coconut tree blossoms (not the actual coconut itself). 

This is a go-to when learning to bake with natural sweeteners since the ratios are the same for your typical white, processed sugar. But unlike cane sugar, coconut sugar contains essential vitamins and micronutrients like potassium and iron. It is also a bit lower on the glycemic index.

Dates/Date Paste

Dates contain helpful vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, and manganese.

Dates can enhance your immune system and lower inflammation. Plus, they are easily digestible and help metabolize proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.


Adding fruit to certain recipes can significantly reduce the amount of additional sweeteners needed. For example, ff you are making muffins or pancakes, add in some blueberries to sweeten them up. 

By adding the entire fruit, you are adding in all of the health benefits like antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins.

Who doesn't love a sweet treat? I certainly do! But at some point I had to ask the question, "What are the best & worst sugar alternatives?"

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