5 Healthy Alternatives to Artificial Sweeteners & Refined Sugar

5 Healthy Alternatives to Artificial Sweeteners & Refined SugarDo you have a sweet tooth? I know I sure do. But what are we supposed to do about it? We know that refined sugar can lead to all sorts of health problems, especially weight gain. But is reaching for the “sugar free” alternatives any better? Often times, no. Consuming these chemicals we can barely pronounce won’t do us any good other than just briefly satisfying our cravings. If you’re confused about what to do, keep reading. Below we’ll go over some of the best artificial sweetener alternatives and natural sugar substitutes to satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way.

Sugar: All Bad?

First of all, we should point out that sugar as a whole is often unfairly demonized in the media, as well as by the “alternative health” community. The truth is, though, that there’s typically little to worry about provided you’re consuming sugar in its natural form.

When biting into a sweet piece of fruit, you’re getting your sugar in a perfect package together with fiber. Fiber slows sugar’s absorption rate and helps keep blood sugar levels under control. And of course, you’re also getting loads of vitamins and other important nutrients from sweet fruit – good stuff that table sugar lacks whatsoever!

To be fair, not all fruit is equal, as some have higher glycemic indexes than others. Regardless, though, most fruit is perfectly safe and incredibly good for you. You only really need to be concerned if you already have preexisting blood sugar issues. Basically, if you have an orange or banana on hand, that’s really one of the best ways to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Sometimes, of course, you just want to sweeten up your coffee or other drinks. In that case, adding refined sugar is something you want to avoid! Consuming too much refined sugar can lead to tooth decay, diabetes and obesity, just to name a few.

natural sugar substitutes
One of the easiest and healthiest options to satisfy your craving is to bite into one of these

Artificial Sweeteners vs. Added Sugar

Realizing how many consumers nowadays are smartening up to the negative health consequences of added sugar, food companies have been coming up with all sorts of sugarless products these days, from gum to coffee sweeteners. Some of the popular chemicals used are saccharin, ACE-K, Splenda (sucralose), Xylitol and aspartame.

Although the United States Food and Drug Administration (2) has categorized many of these artificial sweeteners as safe, reported side effects paint a different picture. Some of these side effects include headaches, joint pains, reduced cognitive functioning and even cancer! If these artificial sweeteners are so bad for you, then why do so many people knowingly consume them?

A lot of it comes down to lack of education. But there are still plenty of people who realize these added chemicals aren’t good for us, but buy them anyway. Why? Sometimes the potential long-term consequences of these chemicals don’t seem quite as bad as the immediate weight gain caused by a sugary donut.

Fortunately, there are a number of natural sugar substitutes out there which also lack the negative health effects of sucralose or aspartame. And as consumers are becoming more aware of reasons to avoid both table sugar and chemical additives, these natural sugar substitutes have been greatly increasing their market share in recent years.

But first, let’s briefly go over another popular sweetener you want to avoid: high fructose corn syrup.


Refined Sugar Artificial Sweeteners
The temptations of added sugars and artificial sweeteners can sometimes be hard to resist


The So-Called “Natural” Alternative

In response to concerns over both sugar and artificial sweeteners, corn growers have been pushing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) into the market as the ideal “natural” sweetener.

However, consumption of HFCS specifically has been linked to liver damage and an increased risk of type-II diabetes. (9) Furthermore, most corn syrup is produced using genetically modified corn, which comes with its own adverse side effects (5).

Another product which is sneakily promoted by food manufacturers as being “all natural” when it really isn’t, is Truvia (see below). Nowadays, it’s more important than ever that we do the proper research when buying just about anything that contains multiple ingredients.

Five Healthy and Natural Sugar Substitutes

All of the sweeteners listed below are as natural as they are healthy. These options also come packed with antioxidants and nutrients that are good for you, unlike artificial sweeteners comprised of nothing but chemicals. And since they are minimally processed, you can also avoid the negative side effects of refined sugar.

First, let’s start with the most popular:

1. Stevia

Free of calories and even sweeter than sugar, Stevia is a fantastic alternative to refined and artificial sugars. It’s naturally derived from a South American shrub, making it the only calorie-free natural sweetener available on the market today (6).

It’s also been exploding in popularity as of late, but if you’re new to the plant, here’s a couple things you should know:

Using Stevia

Since stevia is heat stable, you can use it as you please. However, since this sweetener is several times sweeter than ordinary sugar, you should avoid using too much of it.

To give bulk to baked recipes, try using stevia with a bulking agent such as coconut flour, whipped egg whites, roasted winter squash, yogurt or fresh fruit puree.

“Where Can I Buy Stevia?”

Once learning about this seemingly magical plant that’s sugar free, carb free and can satisfy your sweetness cravings, this is the first question that most people ask.

But first, let’s briefly go over a few of the things you should look out for when buying stevia. First of all, you want to make sure the product is not GMO. You also want to pay attention to how the stevia is processed. Ideally, you want to buy stevia that’s only been processed with water, and not using the chemical-based extraction methods of products like Truvia. (11)

Stevia can easily be purchased online or at your local health foods store. The products by the company Microingredients Superfoods tick the boxes mentioned above, as their stevia is both non-GMO and naturally processed.

When buying stevia, even the “pure” kind, always be sure to check that the product does not contain added Maltodextrin!

Truvia vs Stevia

Truvia, one of the top-selling sweeteners on the market today, advertises itself as being both “all natural” and “stevia-based.” Like stevia, it also has zero calories, which is one of the product’s major selling points.

While Truvia does indeed contain zero calories, it can hardly be called “all-natural,” nor can it really be considered “stevia-based.” It’s comprised of the ingredients erythritol (sugar alcohol),”natural flavorings” and rebiana, a crystallized form of a compound found in the stevia plant. (9)

Not only do we not know how this crystallization process takes place, but any time the vague “natural flavorings” appears on a label, you can bet that it’s anything but natural! Especially when dealing with a product made by Coca-Cola.

Despite Truvia being marketed as a natural sugar substitute, it’s anything but. Is it really that bad for you, though? The problem is that we don’t really know. In the end, I think it’s a smart idea to stick with what we know is natural, like stevia, while also being especially weary of deceptive labelling on food packaging.

2. Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is another natural alternative to sugar you should consider. Not only is it nutritious, but its glycemic index score and fructose content are both low (7). Therefore, when you take coconut sugar, you won’t get the common ‘buzz followed by a crash’ effect that comes with typical refined sugar.

Using Coconut Sugar

You can add coconut sugar to all your favorite recipes in measurements similar to sugar. Although it is somewhat coarser than refined sugar, this shouldn’t present any problem.

3. Raw Honey

Raw honey is a fantastic natural alternative to sugar. In addition to being delicious, it also comes with a broad range of health benefits which you can learn more about HERE.

Apart from its antibacterial properties, honey (8) is also an excellent source of antioxidants thanks to its pollen content. In general, the darker the honey, the higher its antioxidant value, nutritional content, and overall health benefits.

Using Raw Honey

Resist the temptation to cook with honey. Doing so will only water down its natural properties. Instead, drizzle raw honey on yogurt, over sprouted grain toast or on whatever else you please. You may also want to experiment with using it in your salad dressings.

Hot drinks like coffee and tea taste great with some added honey. But be careful – you don’t want to diminish raw honey’s beneficial qualities by adding it to liquid that’s too hot. Try waiting a little bit until your beverage is tepid enough for comfortable sipping before you add the honey.

My favorite combination these days is raw honey mixed together with ginger tea. What’s yours?


Holistic Health for Life Honey
Honey is a healthy and delicious natural sweetener – just make sure to buy it raw!


4. Molasses

Molasses is created by what’s left behind after sugar cane has been refined into the unhealthy white sugar you’re trying to avoid. Of all the natural alternatives to sugar, molasses is the most nutrient-rich. More specifically, it delivers a significant amount of vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium (7).

Traditional sugar is produced by heating the top layer to form crystals. During this refining process, most of the nutritional benefits of sugar are left inside the molasses. Therefore, instead of getting refined sugar, you’d be better off buying blackstrap molasses. Since it’s sweeter than sugar, you’ll also end up using less of it over the long term.

Using Molasses

When you get started with molasses, you might be surprised by its uniquely rich flavor. As such, it might not prove palatable for concentrated application in porridges or on top of toast. Still, molasses is the perfect option to use in marinades and while baking.

5. Date Sugar

Last on this list is date sugar. As the name suggests, it’s derived from dried dates after the fruit has been dehydrated and ground to create a special kind of sugar (8).

Since the dried dates don’t get processed, it follows that date sugar retains all the nutritional benefits from the raw material. Additionally, it comes with a rich and sweet flavor, making it one of the best alternatives to refined sugar and artificial sweeteners.

Using Date Sugar

Unlike stevia, you can use date paste for baking because it adds bulk. To make your own, soak some dates in hot water until they soften. Drain the water into a container and blend the soaked dates until smooth. Keep adding the soaking liquid until you create the thick, rich paste that you need.

While baking cakes or cookies, try using the date paste as the perfect alternative to refined sugar. You can also use it to sweeten pies and muffins.


So, there you have it – some of best natural sugar substitutes to satisfy those cravings. Although you might be trying to live healthy by cutting out added sugar and artificial sweeteners, it doesn’t mean that you completely have to ignore your sweet tooth! Use the alternatives listed above instead and enjoy the extra benefits they provide. And of course, you can always just bite into a juicy piece of fruit whenever the cravings hit.



(1) https://www.aspartamesafety.com/Article4.htm
(2) https://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dailys/03/Jan03/012203/02P-0317_emc-000202.txt
(3) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM
(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892765/
(5) https://draxe.com/genetically-modified-foods-gmo-linked-tumors-allergies-early-death/
(6) https://www.yahoo.com/beauty/10-natural-alternatives-to-sugar-how-healthy-are-they-93420596832.html
(7) https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-3191361/The-10-best-natural-substitutes-refined-sugar.html
(8) https://edition.cnn.com/2017/02/22/health/natural-sweeteners-diet-partner/index.html
(9) https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/high-fructose-corn-syrup-dangers/
(10) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/truvia-good-or-bad#section1
(11) https://healthylivinghowto.com/guide-to-stevia/


5 Healthy Alternatives to Artificial Sweeteners & Refined Sugar
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