5 Sweet Alternatives to White Sugar

Have you put white sugar on the chopping block for 2016? You’re not alone. And there are a ton of sweetener alternatives popping up. Is there a better option?

Are all sweeteners created equal?

To some degree, caloric sweeteners are the same; no matter which type you choose, they are all purely carbohydrate, and most contain 15 to 20 calories per teaspoon.

Less-processed sweeteners may also contain an array of trace minerals, but you’d have to consume an excessive amount to truly receive any benefit — there are better dietary options for minerals, such as legumes (beans and peas), whole grains, dairy and lean meats.


Here’s a look at what’s hot in sweeteners at grocery stores.

Coconut Sugar (pictured at top)

Made from the sap of a coconut tree, coconut sugar (aka coconut palm sugar) has more texture than traditional white sugar, but it is a lot less sweet; it has a slightly caramelized flavor and can also be used interchangeably with brown sugar.

Date Sugar

Made from dried dates that have been ground, date sugar can be used as a replacement for brown sugar. Some brands also contain oat flour or other grain mixtures to prevent clumping.

Yacon Syrup

A thick syrup with a molasses flavor, this lesser-known sweetener contains a large amount of indigestible fiber called inulin, making it lower in calories than some other sweeteners, with about 7 calories per teaspoon.

Sorghum Syrup

A thick and sticky syrup derived from the increasingly popular ancient grain, sorghum syrup has a pleasantly sweet and almost burnt flavor that is similar to molasses, but slightly less pungent. It can be used in baking and also to drizzle over fresh fruit.

Blue Agave

Made from the agave plant, blue agave nectar is a super-sweet, dark amber liquid that dissolves well in any mixture. Because it is so sweet, you can use less than some other sweeteners, which may save you some calories.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

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