Whether you’re cooking or baking, some sort of sweetener (sugar or otherwise) will likely appear in the ingredients list of your go-to recipes. Sweeteners play a big role in not only the flavor of foods (and drinks) but the texture as well.
In this extensive guide, we’ll define what sugars are, review natural vs. artificial sweeteners, explain food labeling terms for sugars, and give brief introductions to 58 different sweeteners as well as:
- Their nutritional information (calories, total carbs, total sugars)
- Whether they are vegan, keto, and/or Paleo-friendly
- Their glycemic index values
We’ll hit all the most popular natural sugars and sweeteners like regular table sugar, honey, brown sugar, cane sugar, simple syrup, powdered sugar, molasses, Sugar in the Raw, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and corn syrup.
We’ll go deeper tracks with sweeteners like monk fruit sweetener, demerara sugar, and erythritol.
And, of course, we’ll cover popular artificial sweeteners including Stevia, Splenda, Equal, and Nutrasweet.
We hope this guide is not only useful for your cooking and baking needs, but for your own health and lifestyle choices as well. Let’s dig in!
Types of sugar
The word “sugar” is used to describe a variety of different types of sugars. Sugars are either monosaccharides (single sugar molecules, also called “simple” sugars) or disaccharides, which are two single sugars linked together.
The two most well-known monosaccharides are probably:
- Glucose (dextrose) … the sugar in your blood
- Fructose … the sugar in fruit
And the two most well-known disaccharides are probably:
- Sucrose … regular old table sugar
- Lactose … the sugar in milk
These sugars occur naturally in foods like sugar cane, fruit, milk, and many other foods, and are also present in sweeteners that are added to foods and drinks to add flavor.
Note: While sugar is an umbrella term for lots of different varieties of sugar, when people say “sugar” in everyday conversation (e.g. “Can I borrow some sugar, neighbor?”, they’re usually referring to table sugar, which goes by all these names:
- Table sugar
- Granulated sugar
- Regular sugar
- White sugar
- Refined sugar
Artificial sweeteners vs. natural sweeteners
Natural sweeteners are those that haven’t been processed or refined, such as honey and maple syrup. Some sweeteners like table sugar can’t be considered natural because they are formed from a process of refining and processing, even though the source (sugar cane) is considered natural.
Artificial sweeteners are manmade and are typically considered non-nutritive (don’t provide any calories). Artificial sweeteners are used to reduce the sugar content of foods and drinks, and they usually contain zero calories and don’t have an impact on blood sugar levels.
There are a lot of debates and ongoing studies on how artificial sweeteners might impact other aspects of your health (e.g. whether they elevate the risk of cancer, kidney disease, and heart disease), but we’re baking enthusiasts not doctors, so we won’t delve into that debate in this article.
Refined vs. unrefined
The process of refining involves removing impurities and changing sugars from their natural form. Natural sweeteners can be unrefined, but some are still considered refined if they’ve undergone processes like heating, adding enzymes, etc.
Refined sugars aren’t considered artificial, but they aren’t always considered natural, either…
A good example of refined sugar (like we mentioned earlier) is table sugar, which is made from the sugar cane plant by evaporating the cane juice and removing the molasses. So while table sugar is from a natural source, it isn’t natural on its own.
We know this is a little tricky, so here’s one more example/comparison.
|Agave nectar (not raw)||Yes||Yes||No|
Sugar alcohols are used in sugar-free and low-sugar foods as sweeteners. Since they can occur naturally in some foods, it’s tricky to define them as natural or artificial (for the sake of this article we’re calling them artificial).
Sugar alcohols aren’t absorbed well by your intestines, which means they provide very few calories and sugar. This also means that sugar alcohols can cause stomach upset in some people, such as gas, bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
Sugar and labeling
With all of the different types of sweeteners out there, it can get confusing trying to navigate food labels. Here are some explanations of what it means by sugar-free, no sugar added, and other claims!
Doesn’t contain any real sugars which would impact your blood sugar levels. One example is sugar-free soda made with artificial sweeteners.
No sugar added
No-sugar-added products might contain naturally occurring sugars, but they don’t contain any added sweeteners. No sugar-added products often contain artificial sweeteners.
Any sugar added to foods or drinks, whether natural or refined, is considered added. For example, cookies with regular sugar are considered to have added sugar, as is a nutrition bar that is sweetened with honey or concentrated fruit juice.
Role & uses of sweeteners
Sweeteners are most commonly used to sweeten foods and drinks, as well as to balance other flavors in dishes. For instance, sweeteners can be used to offset spicy, sour, and bitter flavors.
Sugar also promotes moisture in products by binding with water molecules, which helps prevent baked goods from drying out.
List of sweeteners
Acesulfame potassium (Ace-K) (Sunett, Sweet One)
- An artificial sweetener used to provide sweetness without sugar or calories (like all non-nutritive sweeteners) used in beverages, desserts, and even personal care products including mouthwash and toothpaste.
- Ace-K is also one of the ingredients in the brand Equal, a popular artificial sweetener.
- Around 20,000 times sweeter than table sugar.
- It’s considered a general-purpose sweetener and flavor enhancer for foods except for meat and poultry.
- Can be used as a tabletop sweetener and is also added to processed foods like flavored drinks, bubble gum, and jams, among many other uses.
- Syrupy sweetener harvested from different species of agave plants, including Agave tequilana (blue agave) – the same type of agave that tequila is made from. Agave nectar is primarily made from blue agave and agave salmiana.
- Raw agave nectar may retain its potential nutritional benefits and antioxidants better than more processed versions.
- Agave nectar is around 75% sweeter than table sugar.
- The hue of agave nectar correlates with how many times it was filtered – the more it’s filtered, the lighter the syrup will be.
- Allulose is a naturally occurring sugar that is found in very small amounts in foods such as figs, raisins, and molasses.
- While allulose can be found naturally in some foods, it’s artificially created to make the sweetener Allulose (converting the fructose in corn starch into allulose via enzymes).
- Allulose is a popular keto-friendly sweetener that many describe as not having an unpleasant or bitter aftertaste.
- Arabitol is a type of sugar alcohol that can be used to sweeten foods but is also used as an anti-cariogenic agent (fights dental cavities) and to reduce fat tissue.
- There isn’t much information about this sweetener, and it’s not one of the more commonly-used non-nutritive sweeteners.
Aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet)
- One of six high-intensity sweeteners approved by the FDA (if they aren’t FDA-approved, they have to be “generally recognized as safe”, or GRAS).
- Aspartame is the sole ingredient in the brand Nutrasweet and is combined with acesulfame potassium to make Equal.
- Aspartame isn’t heat-resistant, so it’s generally used in low-heat applications such as prepared foods and beverages that don’t require much if any heating.
- Contains the amino acid phenylalanine, so aspartame shouldn’t be consumed by people with a metabolic disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU), a condition where your body can’t break down phenylalanine.
Barbados sugar (muscovado sugar)
- An unrefined sugar made from the juice of sugar cane with a very high molasses content, which gives it its dark brown color.
- Thanks to its rich molasses flavor, Barbados sugar can be used in recipes for gingerbread and toffee.
- Higher moisture compared to demerara sugar, which is similar.
Barley malt syrup
- Made by malting barley grains, a process that converts the grains into syrup with a toasted, caramel-like flavor. Barley malt syrup is considered versatile and can be used to make cakes, dark bread such as pumpernickel, and top pancakes.
- Barley malt syrup is different from barley malt powder, which is used to promote bread rising and browning of crusts.
- Very similar to cane sugar because it primarily consists of sucrose. Though it’s still considered refined sugar and is nutritionally equal to cane sugar, some people prefer to use beet sugar in place of cane sugar.
- One of the benefits of beet sugar is that it doesn’t require the use of animal bone char to make it pure white, which appeals to some vegans (even though refined cane sugar doesn’t contain any bone in it).
Brown rice syrup
- A popular natural sweetener for vegans who don’t consume honey.
- Though some people believe brown rice syrup has a lower glycemic index than sugar, it’s considered a high glycemic index sweetener with a GI of 98.
- People who are sensitive to fructose (such as those following a low FODMAP diet for digestive issues) tend to choose brown rice syrup over other sweeteners since it doesn’t contain any fructose – only glucose.
Brown sugar (dark & light)
- Brown sugar is made from molasses, a byproduct of sugar cane. Brown sugar can either be unrefined or partially refined, but it can also be made by simply adding molasses to refined cane sugar.
- Light brown sugar has less molasses than dark brown sugar. Both types can be used to add the distinctive color and flavor of molasses compared to white sugar, which contains no molasses.
- Thanks to the molasses content, brown sugar is richer in calcium compared to white sugar (83 milligrams of calcium per 100 grams of brown sugar compared to 1 milligram of calcium per 100 grams of white sugar).
- Cane sugar is made from sugar cane and can be used to make granulated sugar (which can also come from sugar beets).
- Cane sugar in its more natural form is considered minimally processed and has a brown color to it, with larger grain sizes than granulated sugar.
- Unrefined cane sugar is vegan-friendly since bone char isn’t used to whiten it.
Chicory root syrup
- Made from chicory roots, chicory root syrup is a lower glycemic sweetener with a glycemic index of around 43, much lower than sucrose’s (table sugar) GI of 65.
- Made from the sap of the coconut palm tree itself (not the actual coconut), coconut sugar is made from the nectar of the flower-bud stem.
- One of the few Paleo-friendly sweeteners, coconut sugar has a slightly lower glycemic index than sucrose (54 vs. 65, respectively).
- A thick viscous liquid made by converting corn starch into glucose through the use of an enzyme.
- Light corn syrup is clear while dark corn syrup has molasses added to it, giving it a dark color.
- Can be used at home for baking, but is also a popular sweetener in processed foods due to its low cost compared to table sugar.
- Promotes moisture retention in baked goods and processed foods.
Corn syrup solids
- A dry version of corn syrup that is used to sweeten things like dry drink mixes, coffee creamers, and baby formula.
- Made by dehydrating corn syrup (removing the liquid).
Crystalized cane juice
- Made by crystallizing the juice from sugar canes.
- Dissolves easily into liquids and oils, which is why it might be preferred over other types of sugar in some cases.
Crystalline fructose (fructose powder)
- A crystallized sweetener consisting of only fructose molecules.
- Can be made from sucrose or cornstarch.
- Made by drying and grinding up dates, a naturally sweet fruit.
- Described as having a butterscotch-like sweetness.
- Made by boiling chopped dates, pureeing the cooked dates, and then removing the liquid.
- Used as a more natural sweetener to make things like salad dressings, marinades, desserts, and more.
- Similar to granulated sugar but the granules are larger and more heat-resistant.
- Used to decorate baked goods like cookies and cupcakes, decorating sugar can have coloring added to help add visual appeal.
- A type of cane sugar with a coarse grain.
- Primarily consists of sucrose with a small amount of molasses.
- Used as a garnishing sugar to add crunch to the tops of baked goods, as well as to sweeten beverages, among other potential uses.
- A simple sugar made from corn or wheat, dextrose is almost identical to glucose in terms of structure.
- Dextrose is found naturally in some foods but is made from starch to use as a food additive and preservative.
- A non-nutritive sugar alcohol used in sugar-free, no sugar added, and other reduced-sugar products.
- Can be used to sweeten drinks or bake with, among other uses.
- A favorite among keto dieters.
Evaporated cane juice
- Similar to crystallized cane juice, evaporated cane juice is a granular form of dried cane juice.
- Considered less refined than table sugar and can be used in cooking, baking, and in beverages.
Fruit juice concentrates
- Made from a variety of different fruit juices, fruit juice concentrate is fruit juice with most of the water removed.
- When added to products, fruit juice concentrate is considered added sugar, but 100% fruit juice isn’t considered added sugar.
- Glucose powders and tablets are popular to use to correct low blood sugar since it’s the same type of sugar found in your bloodstream.
- Typically derived from dextrose, which is primarily made of glucose.
High-fructose corn syrup
- A type of refined sugar that turns some of the glucose molecules in corn syrup into fructose.
- There are two types of high-fructose corn syrup: 42% fructose or 55% fructose.
- A popular sweetener in processed foods due to its affordability and higher-intensity sweetness compared to regular sugar.
Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (polyglycitol syrup)
- A mixture of sorbitol, maltitol, and other sugar alcohols.
- Used as a non-caloric sweetener and a humectant (an ingredient that helps retain moisture).
- A natural sweetener made by bees and other insects from collecting flower nectar.
- Unlike most sweeteners, honey isn’t a vegan-friendly sweetener because it’s made by insects.
- Made up of fructose, glucose, and water.
- Contains natural antimicrobial properties and nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- A sugar alcohol made from beet sugar that is colorless and has a high resistance to crystallization and humidity.
- Popular uses include sugar-free hard candies, chewing gum, chocolates, cough drops, and baked goods.
- A sugar alcohol used in low-calorie foods with 30-40% of the sweetness of sucrose.
- Like other sugar alcohols, lactitol can cause diarrhea and stomach upset in some people, especially if consumed in large amounts.
- Lactose is the naturally occurring sugar in milk and dairy products. Lactose isn’t as sweet as sucrose, so it isn’t typically used as a standalone sweetener.
- Lactose is broken down by an enzyme called lactase in your small intestine. If you don’t make enough lactase enzyme, you might be considered ‘lactose intolerant’, leading to signs of malabsorption like gas, diarrhea, or other stomach issues (no fun!) when you consume cow’s milk products. (Fun fact – lactose-free cow’s milk is just regular milk with the lactase enzyme added!)
- If you’re wondering what lactose gets broken down into, it’s two monosaccharides: glucose and galactose (aka “brain sugar”). Makes sense, since lactose is a disaccharide!
- A dried and milled version of lacuma fruit, which is harvested in areas of South America.
- A natural alternative to sugar, lacuma powder is described as having a less subtle sweetness than table sugar and a maple syrup or butterscotch-like flavor. It also contains less sugar per serving compared to table sugar.
- A sugar alcohol that is around 90% as sweet as sucrose, but contains around half of the calories.
- Popular for making sugar-free candies, ice cream, and baked goods.
- Primarily used as a thickener, maltodextrin is made from starch (corn, rice, wheat, or potato).
- Similar to corn syrup solids, though maltodextrin is lower in sugar compared to corn syrup solids.
- A disaccharide (two sugar molecules linked together) made of two glucose molecules bound together.
- While maltose isn’t typically used on its own as a sweetener, it’s commonly found in foods like breakfast cereals, bread, and beer.
- A sugar alcohol commonly used in chewing gum thanks to its powdery texture, helping the gum not stick to the wrapper.
- Also used in chocolate coating because of its high melting point and the fact that it retains its color even at very high temperatures.
- A natural sweetener made by boiling maple syrup until it crystallizes, forming a granulated version of maple syrup.
- Acts like granulated sugar so can be used in similar ways.
- Made from the sap of maple trees, maple syrup primarily consists of sucrose but also contains some fructose and glucose.
- Can be eaten on a Paleo diet and is also a good vegan alternative to honey.
- A dark, thick syrup made from the process of making sugar from sugar cane – molasses is the leftover byproduct after sugar is removed from the sugar cane juice through boiling.
- Blackstrap molasses is a more bitter version of molasses that results from cooking the sugarcane juice longer compared to regular molasses.
- Blackstrap molasses is naturally rich in iron, a mineral used to help build a protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen to your body.
Monk fruit sweetener (monk fruit extract)
- Made from the Luo Han Guo plant (Siraitia grosvenorii) plant, a vine in the gourd family native to China.
- Monk fruit is one of the few non-nutritive sweeteners that is considered natural and gets its sweetness from compounds called mogrosides.
- Monk fruit extract is around 100-250 times sweeter than regular sugar and is believed to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, according to studies.
- A high-intensity artificial sweetener that is around 8,000 times sweeter than table sugar.
- Popular as a food additive because it’s stable at high temperatures, which makes it a good choice for sweetening baked goods.
- Used in beverages, candies, puddings, and more.
Okinawa black sugar
- Made by cooking down sugar cane juice, Okinawa black sugar is less processed than versions of brown sugar that simply add molasses to granulated sugar.
- An unrefined type of cane sugar that is popular in Central and Latin America.
- Depending on the area of the world, panela can also be known as turbinado sugar, Jaggery, Gur, Raspadura, Piloncillo, Panocha, and Penuche.
- Comes in a solid form and is made by boiling and evaporating sugar cane juice.
- Panela has a brown color since it contains molasses (refined sugar doesn’t), giving it a more intense caramel flavor.
Powdered sugar (Confectioner’s sugar)
- Made by finely milling refined granulated sugar into a powder.
- Used to make fudge, cakes, and other sweets as well as decorating baked goods.
- Can also be mixed with food coloring to make frosting.
Saccharin (Sweet’N Low)
- A calorie-free artificial sweetener used in sugar-free or lower-calorie drinks, candies, jams, and other products.
- Considered around 500 times sweeter than sucrose, but can be described as having a bitter aftertaste.
Simple syrup (inverted sugar syrup)
- A basic sweetener made by dissolving one part granulated sugar into one part water.
- Used to blend into beverages, especially cold beverages, when granulated sugar might otherwise not easily dissolve into them.
- A sugar alcohol that is around 60% as sweet as table syrup with around one-third of the calories.
- Used in sugar-free products as well as mouthwashes, toothpaste, etc.
- Made from the green juice of the sorghum plant, a naturally gluten-free cereal grain.
- Considered a healthier sweetener thanks to its lower glycemic index and is less processed than many commonly used sweeteners like corn syrup and granulated sugar.
Steviol glycosides (Stevia, Truvia, Pure Via)
- One of the most well-known natural zero-calorie sweeteners, steviol glycosides are the compounds in the stevia plant that gives it its sweetness.
- Around 200-350 times sweeter than table sugar.
- Similar to panela, sucanat is dried cane juice that contains molasses.
- Comes in granulated form, unlike panela’s solid form.
- Artificial sweetener that is made from real sugar, unlike most other artificial sweeteners. Sucralose is made by altering parts of the sugar molecule so that it’s sweeter than sugar (around 600 times sweeter!) yet doesn’t contain any calories.
- One of the most commonly used artificial sweeteners, you can find sucralose in sugar-free or reduced-sugar baked goods, beverages, frozen desserts, and much more.
Table sugar (sucrose, refined sugar, granulated sugar, white sugar, regular sugar, etc.)
- Produced from either sugar beets or sugar cane, table sugar consists of 100% sucrose, a sugar that is also found in dates, honey, and other natural sweeteners.
- Likely the most commonly used sweetener, table sugar dissolves easily in hot and cold liquids and is the primary sweetener used in many recipes.
- Tagatose exists naturally in some fruits like apples, bananas, and pineapple; it’s not a sugar alcohol, but has a similar structure to sugar alcohols.
- Similar in sweetness as regular sugar but lower in sugar and calories.
Turbinado sugar (raw sugar, Sugar in the Raw)
- A less refined version of granulated sugar, turbinado sugar is made by pressing the juice from sugar cane and allowing the remaining crystals.
- Contains some molasses, giving it a brown color.
- A sugar alcohol found naturally in some foods like plums and berries, xylitol is extracted from corn fiber or birch trees.
- One of the most common sweeteners in sugar-free gum.
- Made by reducing the juice of the yacon plant which is native to South America.
- Yacon syrup is rich in fiber, which is known as a prebiotic.
Diet & nutrition table
- Serving sizes for sweeteners are usually measured in teaspoons or tablespoons – we used the serving listed on the products utilized for the nutrition comparison, which varies among sweeteners
- *=sweetener is considered artificial (e.g. Splenda, etc.); for this article, we are considering sugar alcohols as artificial sweeteners
- V/K/P indicates if the sweetener is vegan, keto, and/or Paleo-friendly
- GI = glycemic index
- N/A = Not available; a reputable source for info couldn’t be found
|Acesulfame potassium*||0||0||0||V, K||0|
|Agave nectar (1 tbsp.)||60||16 g||16 g||V||17|
|Allulose (2 tsp.)*||0||9 g||0 g||V, K||0|
|Arabitol*||0||0||0||V, K||N/A (likely 0)|
|Barbados sugar (muscovado sugar)||N/A||N/A||N/A||V||N/A – likely high|
|Barley malt syrup (1 tbsp.)||60||15 g||8 g||V||~42|
|Beet sugar (2 tsp.)||30||8 g||8 g||V||N/A – likely around 65, the GI of table sugar|
|Brown rice syrup (2 tbsp.)||150||37 g||17 g||V||98|
|Brown sugar (1 tsp.)||15||4 g||4 g||V||65|
|Cane sugar (2 tsp.)||30||8 g||8 g||V||65|
|Chicory root syrup||N/A||N/A||N/A||V, K||43-55|
|Coconut sugar (2.5 tsp.)||40||9 g||8 g||V, P||54|
|Corn syrup (2 tbsp.)||120||30 g||10 g||V||N/A – likely at least the 65 of table sugar|
|Corn syrup solids||N/A||N/A||N/A||V||N/A – likely high|
|Crystallized cane juice (1 tsp.)||15||4 g||4 g||V||Sugar cane=43|
|Crystalline fructose (fructose powder) (1 tsp.)||15||4 g||4 g||V||Fructose=19|
|Date sugar (2 tsp.)||22||5 g||4 g||V, P||Dates=42|
|Date syrup (2 tbsp.)||120||29 g||26 g||V, P||Dates=42|
|Decorating sugar (1 tsp.)||25||6 g||6 g||V||Sucrose=65|
|Demerara sugar (2 tsp.)||30||8 g||8 g||V||Cane sugar=65|
|Dextrose (2.5 tsp)||30||7 g||7 g||V||100|
|Erythritol (2 tsp.)*||0||0 g||0 g (8 g sugar alcohols)||V, K||0|
|Evaporated cane juice (1 tsp.)||15||4 g||4 g||V||43-55|
|Fruit juice concentrates||Varies||Varies||Varies||V||Varies|
|Glucose (powder) (5 g)||~19||~4.6||~4.6 g||V||100|
|High-fructose corn syrup (1 tsp.)||~16||~4 g||~4 g||V||~73+|
|Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates||N/A||N/A||N/A||V||N/A|
|Honey (1 tbsp.)||60||17 g||17 g||P||58|
|Isomalt* (1 tsp.)||8||4 g||4 g||V, K||2|
|Lactitol*||N/A||N/A||N/A||V, K||N/A; likely 0|
|Lactose (2 tsp.)||30||8 g||8 g||—||46|
|Lacuma powder (1 tbsp.)||60||13 g||2 g||V, P||25|
|Maltodextrin (2 tbsp.)||55||14 g||14 g||V||95|
|Mannitol* (1 tsp.)||8||4 g||4 g||V, K||2|
|Maple sugar (2 tsp.)||30||8 g||7 g||V, P||Maple syrup=54|
|Maple syrup (2 tbsp.)||110||26 g||26 g||V, P||54|
|Molasses (1 tbsp.)||60||16 g||14 g||V||55|
|Monk fruit sweetener (1 tsp.)||0||0 g||0 g||V, K, P||0|
|Neotame*||0||0 g||0 g||V, K||0|
|Okinawa black sugar (2 tbsp.)||115||29 g||28 g||V||N/A – likely at least 65, the GI of table sugar|
|Panela (¾ tsp.)||15||4 g||4 g||V||65|
|Powdered sugar (¼ cup)||120||30 g||29 g||V||65|
|Saccharin*||0||0 g||0 g||V, K||0|
|Simple syrup (2 tbsp.)||80||19 g||19 g||V||Cane sugar=65|
|Sorbitol* (5 g)||13||5 g||0 g||V, K||4|
|Sorghum syrup (2 tbsp.)||120||31 g||31 g||V||~50|
|Steviol glycosides (Stevia) (¾ tsp.)||0||3 g||1 g||V, K, P||0|
|Sucanat (2 tsp.)||30||8 g||7 g||V||55|
|Sucralose*||0||0 g||0 g||V, K||0|
|Table sugar (granulated sugar, sucrose) (2 tsp.)||30||8 g||8 g||V||65|
|Turbinado sugar (raw sugar) (2 tsp.)||30||8 g||8 g||V||65|
|Xylitol* (2 tsp.)||20||8 g (from Xylitol, not sugar)||0 g||V, K||12|
|Yacon syrup (1 tsp.)||40||22 g||14 g||V||1|
You might like some of our other guides…
- 42 Different Types of Cooking Oils and Fats
- 61 Different Types of Flour
- 24 Types of Nut Butters and Seed Butters
Some of the most popular keto sweeteners include Stevia, monk fruit, xylitol, yacon syrup, and sucralose, among others.
On the plus side, artificial sweeteners don’t raise your blood sugar levels like sugar does, and they don’t contain calories. That said, there is much scientific debate about whether artificial sweeteners negatively affect other health aspects like cardiovascular health, cancer risk, and metabolic health.
Sugar alcohols contain fewer calories than regular sugars and don’t raise blood sugar levels significantly because they aren’t fully digested. Eating too much sugar alcohol can cause stomach upset like gas, bloating, and diarrhea in some people, so you might want to start with a small amount of sugar alcohol to see how you respond.
Sucrose is a sugar molecule consisting of one glucose and one fructose molecule linked together (two sugars) and is the type of sugar found in table sugar. Glucose and fructose are both single sugar molecules that are found naturally in various foods such as honey (glucose) and fruit (fructose). Among these three sugars, fructose is considered the sweetest.
Vegans avoid all animal-derived products. Honey is derived from bees, a living insect, which disqualifies it as a vegan food.
Some good unrefined natural sugar alternatives for regular (table) sugar include honey and pure maple syrup, which are naturally sweet without being refined.
Stevia is a popular natural sugar substitute because it’s made from sugar, therefore not considered an artificial sweetener. Unlike regular sugar, stevia doesn’t contribute sugar or calories to your diet, which can be beneficial in many ways.
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) isn’t necessarily worse for you than sugar, but it is found in highly-processed foods and sugary drinks, which can contribute to health problems if consumed in large amounts on a regular basis. Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup provide the same amount of calories and sugar per gram, but the main difference is that HFCS is less expensive than sugar (and it’s sweeter due to the higher concentration of fructose molecules), which is why it’s a popular sweetener for food manufacturers to use.
The sugar in fruit and 100% fruit juice isn’t considered added sugar, but the sugar from fruit juice concentrates used as a sweetener is considered added sugar.
Sugar in the Raw isn’t as refined as regular sugar, which means that some of the molasses content is retained from the sugar cane plant. The result is a darker, coarser sugar grain that doesn’t dissolve as easily as regular sugar.
Traditional brown sugar is less refined than white sugar and includes some molasses from the sugar cane plant, giving it its brown color. However, many types of brown sugar today simply add molasses to refined white sugar. Brown sugar is moister than white sugar and offers the flavor of molasses, which white sugar doesn’t.
Lacuma powder, monk fruit sweetener, and stevia are all vegan, keto, AND Paleo-friendly.
Beet sugar is derived from pressing the sugar from sugar beets, whereas cane sugar is derived from sugar cane. They both consist of sucrose and can be used to make table sugar.
It’s a gray area. Sugar alcohols can occur naturally in some foods, but they can also be considered artificial when they are isolated and used in sugar-free or reduced-sugar products. Sugar alcohols are considered less artificial than true artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose, which are only manmade and aren’t naturally present in any food.
Honey, maple syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, raw agave nectar, and date sugar are all popular unrefined (or minimally-refined) sweeteners.
Six artificial sweeteners have the FDA’s approval: saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), sucralose, neotame, and advantame. Other sweetener alternatives must be considered “GRAS” (generally recognized as safe”) by the FDA to be used in products, such as monk fruit sweetener and stevia.