4 Healthier Alternatives to Refined White Sugar

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

4 Healthier Alternatives to Refined White Sugar

Imagine a world without sugar – there would be no chocolates, ice creams, cakes and other sweet treats. Life is so boring without those sweet desserts most especially to people who have “sweet tooth” like me. This is the reason why refined white sugar is an indispensable condiment that is added to almost all food and drinks. The common white sugar is a crystallized sucrose that is extracted either from sugarcane or sugar beet. It has undergone refining and bleaching process in order to remove impurities and to produce a bright white color sugar that is more visually appealing to the consumers. However, when a sugar is refined, its beneficial nutrients are also stripped away leaving us with a sweetener that doesn’t add any nutritional value to the food or drink it has been added to.

Consuming too much refined white sugar can have a negative impact to our health like diabetes and obesity. Having too much sugar in the body can cause blood sugar spike and if we don’t have enough insulin to metabolize the sugar, the sugar will be stored as fat in our body which can lead to gain weight. That is why it is very important to choose natural form of sweeteners that will help you satisfy your sweet cravings in a healthier way.

1. Coconut Sugar

Coconut Sugar

I’m a big fan of anything coconut so it’s no wonder that when I learned about coconut sugar, I didn’t think twice to try it. Coconut sugar comes from the liquid sap that is collected from the flower buds of the coconut palm trees. The liquid sap is boiled until all the water has evaporated and what is left is the dehydrated coconut sugar.

Coconut sugar is naturally brown in color and has a similar taste and smell to brown sugar. Since it is less processed than regular white sugar, it retains most of its nutrients like iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. It also has a low glycemic index (GI) so it will not elevate the blood sugar level as much as white sugar. You can easily substitute white or brown sugar in recipes with coconut sugar in 1:1 ratio (e.g. 1 tsp white sugar = 1 tsp coconut sugar).

Where to buy coconut sugar in the Philippines

KM’s Organics Organic Coconut Sugar is available in small packets and in 250g packs

2. Pure Raw Honey

Honey is one of my most favorite natural sweeteners. I usually use it to sweeten my tea without the grittiness of the white sugar. Honey is a sweet substance that is produced by bees by collecting nectars from flowers. Raw honey contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants.

Do you know that pure honey doesn’t spoil? It’s because of its antimicrobial and low pH (acidic) properties which make it very challenging for bacteria to survive. So if you are into preserving fruits (a.k.a. fruit canning), you can simply replace sugar with honey. Since honey is a lot sweeter than white sugar, you just need to use less honey in place of sugar.

It’s very important that what you buy is organic, pure, raw honey and not honey that is mixed with corn syrup. Check the product label and make sure that you will only see one ingredient listed – 100% pure raw honey. Also, among all the natural sweeteners in this list, honey is the only one that is not considered as vegan because it is produced by animals (bees).

Where to buy pure raw honey in the Philippines

Milea Bee Farms Pure Raw Honey is available in various sizes at their official Shopee shop

3. Stevia


Do you ever wonder if there is a way to add sweetness to your food and drink without the extra calories? The answer to that question is yes and it is made possible through stevia. Stevia is an all-natural sweetener that is derived from a South American plant that is known locally as “sweet herb”. It has zero calorie and zero glycemic index (GI) so it is suitable for people with blood sugar issues. Don’t confuse it with other zero calorie artificial sweeteners like sucralose (e.g. Splenda), aspartame (often added to zero calorie softdrinks) and saccharin.

Stevia is 200 to 400 times sweeter than white sugar so only a small amount is needed to achieve the same level of sweetness as sugar. In fact, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) mentions that the recommended daily intake of stevia should be no more than 9 packets a day. The only downside to using a zero calorie sweetener is that it has no nutritional value.

Stevia is also heat-stable so you can easily use it in any kind of recipes, even in baking that requires high temperature. Another plus factor is using stevia in your sweet treats will not cause tooth decay.

It’s important to note that there are several varieties of stevia-based natural sweeteners and not all of them are approved by FDA. So far, the two brands that are approved by FDA are Truvia and PureVia.

Where to buy stevia in the Philippines

KM’s Organics Truvia Stevia is available in small packets and in 50g & 150g packs

4. Maple Syrup

We are all familiar with the sweet maple syrup that we often put on top of pancakes. However, maple-flavored pancake syrups that we bought from the supermarket are really not derived from maple, rather they are just corn syrup with artificial maple flavoring, so make sure to check the product label.

Authentic and 100% pure maple syrup contains vitamins and minerals. In fact, 100 grams of maple syrup contain 28% zinc and 165% manganese of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA). Maple syrup comes from the sap collected from maple trees that are native in Canada. There are two major grades of maple syrup. Each grade has different color and intensity of flavor. Grade-A maple syrup is both light in color and flavor, it also resembles the flavor of artificial maple syrup. On the other hand, Grade-B maple syrup has darker color, thicker consistency and stronger flavor. Take note that whichever grade of maple syrup you buy, it is twice sweeter than white sugar so you should use less during substitution.

Where to buy pure maple syrup in the Philippines

Uncle Luke’s 100% Pure Grade-A Maple Syrup is available at S&R Membership Shopping

I just want to emphasize that even if you use these natural sweeteners in your daily diet, please use them moderately. Always remember, eating too much of anything is not good for your health J

To wrap up this post, here is a table of comparison showing the glycemic index (GI) of white sugar and natural sweeteners. The lower the glycemic index, the slower the rise in blood sugar level.

Glycemic Index (GI)
White sugar
Maple syrup
Coconut sugar


Glycemic Index for Sweeteners. Retrieved from http://www.sugar-and-sweetener-guide.com/glycemic-index-for-sweeteners.html

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