White Sugar Substitutes: 9 Healthy Natural Alternatives

Consuming too much refined or white sugar for the long term may cause damage to your health in many ways. Fortunately, you can use healthy white sugar substitutes in baking and cooking.

Natural sweeteners are a better replacement for refined sugar than you can think of. Please note, too many natural sweeteners can also cause health issues but not as much as white sugar.

In short, no sweetener is healthy if consumed in excess.

What is white sugar?

White sugar is the crystallized sucrose extracted from either sugarcane or sugar beets. It is also known by other names like table sugar, regular sugar, or granulated sugar.

The juice of sugar beets or sugar cane is boiled down to remove moisture. Once the moisture is diminished, the natural sucrose in the juice begins to crystallize. The crystallized sugar is gathered and then what is leftover remains in the form of molasses.

All vitamins and minerals in the sugar cane go along with the molasses. For this reason, refined sugar does not have any nutritional value.

9 Natural White Sugar Substitutes

Refined sugar is the most commonly used sweetener in cooking and baking. It adds sweetness to the recipe without altering the flavor profile of the dish. It is affordable and easily available.

However, overuse of refined sugar may cause health concerns like obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, tooth decay, accelerated aging, and others.

It is healthy and wise to replace white sugar with natural sweeteners less harmful to the body.

Let us look at some of the safer alternatives to table sugar.

1. Stevia


Stevia is a sugar substitute that comes from a stevia plant that has no calories. Stevia is much sweeter than sugar – use about 2 tsp per 1 cup sugar.


  • Stevia leaves extract or powder is 30 times sweeter than regular sugar
  • It contains zero calories
  • Not harmful to your teeth
  • Control of blood sugar and lowers blood pressure


  • Expensive
  • Short shelf life
  • Improper processing can give a bitter taste

2. Honey


Honey is a sweet, viscous food substance made by bees and some related insects. For every 1 cup of sugar, substitute 1/2 to 2/3 cup honey.


  • Truly natural sweetener
  • Contains some nutrients
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • Less bad than sugar
  • Delicious


  • Contains high calories like the sugar
  • Not suitable for diabetes patients
  • Difficult to get pure honey, often mixed with syrups and preservatives
  • Not suitable for high heat cooking baking

3. Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is usually made from the xylem sap (circulating fluid) of sugar maple trees. It is ideal to use ¾ cup of maple syrup for every one cup of sugar.


  • Contains no added chemicals or preservatives
  • Contains Vitamins and minerals
  • Rich in antioxidants


  • Rich in calories
  • Quality varies according to different grades of syrup
  • May cause tooth decay
  • Difficult source pure maple syrup from stores
  • Expensive than sugar

4. Coconut Nectar

Coconut Nectar

Coconut nectar is the delicious sweet syrup derived from the sap of the flowers of the coconut palm. When this syrup is dehydrated, it becomes granules of coconut sugar. It is used as a sugar substitute in the ratio of 1:1.


  • High in amino acids and minerals
  • Doesn’t harm teeth
  • Contains no chemicals and preservatives
  • Available in crystal and liquid form
  • Neutral flavor
  • Lower glycemic than cane sugar


  • Rich in calories
  • Similar to table sugar
  • May cause obesity, diabetes, heart disease, or metabolic syndrome

5. Agave Nectar

Agave Nectar

Agave syrup, sometimes called agave nectar, comes from the juice extracts of blue agave plant leaves. This plant is similar to a cactus and grows in Mexico.

Use about a two-thirds cup of agave nectar for every one cup of sugar called for in recipes.


  • Sweeter than regular sugar
  • Neutral flavor
  • Has low glycemic index than refined sugar


  • High in fructose
  • Risk of developing diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • May increase LDL cholesterol
  • Equally bad as sugar

6. Yacon Syrup

Yacon Syrup

Yacon syrup is extracted from the roots of the yacon plant. It’s a sweet syrup with a look and consistency akin to molasses. About 75gm (18¾ teaspoons) equals 100gm (25 teaspoons) of white sugar.


  • Sweeter than sugar
  • Beneficial for diabetes, weight loss, and constipation
  • Contains antioxidants


  • May cause intestinal distress
  • Cannot cook or bake this syrup at a high temperature

7. Molasses


Molasses are produced by boiling down sugar beet or sugar cane juice. This is a sweet brown liquid with a syrup-like consistency.

While substituting molasses for sugar, use 1 1/3 cups molasses for 1 cup sugar.


  • Contains a few vitamins and minerals
  • Rich in antioxidants than honey and maple syrup
  • Good for bone and heart health
  • A fine replacement for refined sugar


  • Rich in calories
  • Not suitable for diabetes patients
  • May cause digestive problems and diarrhea

8. Erythritol


Erythritol is a sugar alcohol with fewer calories than table sugar.  It has only 6% of the calories of regular sugar. It tastes neutral. You can easily swap erythritol with white sugar.

Erythritol is about 70% as sweet as sugar, so always use a little more compared to sugar (about 1.3 times more).


  • Free of the harmful effects of the regular sugar
  • Body directly absorbs the erythritol into the bloodstream and excreted through urine
  • Doesn’t increase the blood sugar, cholesterol, insulin, or triglyceride levels
  • Well tolerated by the body


  • Expensive
  • Higher doses of erythritol may cause side effects
  • melts in high heat and does not caramelize.

9. Xylitol


Xylitol is a sugar alcohol. It tastes just like sugar. It is mostly extracted from birch wood or corn.

As a sugar substitute, xylitol compares about 1:1 in recipes.


  • Nearly 40% lower calories than table sugar
  • Does not raise blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Xylitol contains zero fructose
  • Does not have the side effects of regular sugar
  • Doesn’t cause tooth decay
  • Helps in better absorption of calcium your body


  • Too much Xylitol may cause digestive issues
  • Not suitable for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome
  • Highly toxic to dogs
  • Expensive than sugar

The bottom line

Sugar is largely responsible for most lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases.

The natural sweeteners we have discussed above are a good alternative to refined sugar.

However, overconsumption of any type of sugar is bad for health.

Stevia is perhaps the best substitute for white sugar. Other good alternatives to table sugar are yacon syrup, xylitol, and erythritol.