Natural Sweeteners – Alternatives to Sugar Part Two


Here are more alternatives for your sweet tooth.

Brown rice syrup

Brown rice syrup (rice syrup) is made by cooking brown rice flour or brown rice starch with enzymes. It has a mild, buttery flavor, along with a light sweetness and nuttiness. Rice syrup is good for all kinds of baking as well as dressings, soups, and sauces. It is half as sweet as sugar so you may need to use more. It retains the fiber of brown rice including all of the nutrients. 2T contains 110 calories. Even though it has a glycemic index of 25, it is not recommended for diabetics as it has been shown to cause spikes in blood sugar.

Date sugar

Date sugar is made from 100% dehydrated, ground dates. This sugar offers the same satisfying taste as unground dates do. You can use date sugar just like you use brown sugar or regular sugar. It is a whole food, high in fiber and vitamins and minerals. A drawback of using date sugar is it doesn’t dissolve in liquids. The glycemic index is not available; however the GI for dates is 36-63. It has 11 calories per tsp.


Honey is produced by bees. The bees make honey from the nectar of flowers. It has a distinct taste which is hard to identify, but that most find pleasurable. Honey can be used in cooking, as a spread for toast, a sweetener in tea and other beverages, as well as in baking. When baking, honey has a slightly less than 1 to 1 ratio, e.g., 1 cup of sugar equals ¾ cup honey. Honey provides small amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Honey has a slightly slower absorption rate than sugar. Diabetics should use honey in moderation. Infants under 1 year of age must never be given honey due to the possibility of being infected with the germ that causes botulism. 1 T has 64 calories. This sweet nectar has a glycemic index of 55.

Maple syrup

Maple syrup is a sticky molasses type sweetener with a slightly sweet taste. It is produced from xylem sap originating from several species of maple trees. The sap is concentrated by heating to evaporate the water. Maple syrup is used in baking and often used on breakfast foods like waffles, pancakes, and french toast. It can also be used to sweeten foods. It is a good source of zinc, a very good source of manganese and has 15 times more calcium than honey. Maple syrup has 52 calories in 1 T with a glycemic index of 54.


Stevia comes from a South American herb which is in the Chrysanthemum family. It has a slightly bitter aftertaste and is 10-15 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia can be purchased in individual packets like sugar, as an extract or in a bulk powder. This sweetener doesn’t caramelize or brown like sugar, making its use in some recipes limited. There is very little nutritive value to refined Stevia. In small doses Stevia’s glycemic index is zero, with no effect on blood sugar. It also has no calories and is probably safe for diabetics.

Depending on your taste and what you are making these sweeteners offer variety and a healthier route than conventional sweeteners. TrueFoods Market offers all of these natural sweeteners. If Stevia is your sweetener of choice check out the stevia cookbook on the website. It is “Sugar-Free Cooking with Stevia.”
With all these natural choices it’s time to find a recipe, choose a sweetener, and hit the kitchen for some satisfying treats without all the guilt.