How to choose the healthiest sweetener is hands-down the most frequent question.
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, ace-K, and saccharin have been debated for years in regard to their potentially damaging effects. While all of these sweeteners are technically “safe” and sugar-free, according to the Food and Drug Administration, they are coming under increased scrutiny. Side effects related to their consumption seem to range from headaches and poor digestion to cravings and even mood disorders. (1)
Refined sugars aren’t healthy either. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “table sugar is inflammatory, high in calories, and offers no nutritional benefit.” Side effects of consuming too much sugars include diabetes, tooth decay, obesity, heart disease, certain types of cancer and even poor cognitive functioning.(2)
Fortunately, there are many sugar substitutes that are healthy and tasty alternatives to refined sugar,high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.
Natural sweeteners are those that may contain calories (depending on the kind) and also usually supply some nutrients. Honey, maple syrup, and molasses, for example, all contain beneficial components, such as enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates, that the human body knows how to process. (3) (4) (5) For example, one study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that substituting healthy sweeteners — including maple syrup and honey — can increase your antioxidant intake and offer other benefits. (6)
Certain natural sweeteners (like banana puree and date paste) provide health benefits, such as encouraging healthy blood pressure and reducing cholesterol levels and heart disease risk, thanks to their fiber content. (7) (8)
The benefits of natural sugar substitutes vary, but one thing they all have in common: They come from nature.
9 Best Natural Sweeteners (The Healthiest Sugar Substitutes)
What is the healthiest sugar substitute to use?
Some experts like fruit as the best, because there are no empty calories involved, and the sugars are naturally occurring, but it really can be a matter of personal opinion and/or individual health needs.
Some of the most popular natural sweeteners and their calorie content:
1. Raw honey (1 tablespoon = 64 calories)
2. Stevia (0 calories)
3. Dates (1 Medjool date = 66 calories)
4. Coconut sugar (1 tablespoon = 45 calories)
5. Maple syrup (1 tablespoon = 52 calories)
6. Banana puree (1 cup = 200 calories)
7. Brown rice syrup (1 tablespoon = 55 calories)
8. Real fruit jam (varies depending on the fruit)
9. Monk fruit (0 calories)