The 7 Best Sugar Alternatives of 2022, According to a Dietitian

Replace your processed sweeteners with more natural options

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Sugar alternatives can be tricky to navigate. Use of synthetic artificial sweeteners —such as aspartame and saccharin— has been debated for years due to their potentially damaging effects, even though many of them have been regulated and approved by the FDA. If you're not a fan of artificial sweeteners, there are some 'better' options when it comes to sugar alternatives.

Natural sugar alternatives, such as honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar, may provide more nutrients than table sugar—but are still forms of sugar and should be eaten in moderation. Other options—such as stevia and monk fruit extract—and some sugar alcohols are also good options to sweeten your favorite recipes.

Here, the best sugar alternatives:

Best Stevia: SWEET LEAF Organic Stevia Sweetener

SweetLeaf Organic Stevia Sweetener

Courtesy of Amazon

Stevia sweetener comes from the stevia plant, which has been used throughout the world since ancient times. It naturally has the same sweet taste as processed white sugar—in fact, stevia is 100 to 300 times sweeter—without any of the calories and can be used for all the same purposes.​

If you want to swap your daily sugar intake with something with a super sweet taste but minimal impact on your blood sugar levels, we recommend reaching for this zero-calorie sweetener from Sweetleaf Organics. The USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Paleo packets contain no bitterness, aftertaste, or artificial ingredients. Each packet is equivalent to two teaspoons of sugar, so Sweetleaf recommends starting with half a packet and adjusting to taste.

Like sugar, stevia is incredibly versatile. It mixes well with hot or cold beverages and cereals, or into your favorite recipe. Sweetleaf makes it easy to swap stevia for sugar in your favorite recipes with this stevia conversion chart.

Best Monk Fruit: Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener

Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener

Courtesy of Amazon

If you're looking for a zero-calorie, zero-carb sugar alternative, Lakanto's Monkfruit Sweetener is an excellent choice. Made from the concentrated powder of a small green melon, monk fruit is 100 to 250 times sweeter than regular sugar and is commonly blended with inulin or erythritol—sugar alcohol— to reduce the intensity of the sweetness.

Lakatno blends monk fruit extract with erythritol to create a cup for cup sugar alternative that works well for a wide variety of diets including low-carb, low-sugar, vegan, candida, keto, and paleo. The one-pound bag is great if you like to bake; however, the brand also offers convenient packets to take with you on-the-go.

Best Erythritol: Swerve The Ultimate Sugar Replacement

Swerve The Ultimate Sugar Replacement

Courtesy of Amazon

If you prefer a less sweet, zero-calorie sweetener, an erythritol product like Swerve's Granular Sugar Replacement may be for you. The sugar alcohol is only about 60 percent to 80 percent as sweet as sugar, and unlike other sugar alcohols, it doesn't contain any calories.

Swerve's non-GMO, plant-based sugar alternative can be used as a 1:1 substitute for your usual white sugar, even in baking and cooking. It's also gluten-free, keto-friendly, and kosher. For bakers looking to sweeten their treats without calories, carbs, or a bitter aftertaste, Swerve also makes confectioners sugar and brown sugar replacements. Plus, erythritol may have some health benefits. Research suggests that erythritol doesn't affect blood sugar and reduces the risk of dental caries.

Best Coconut Sugar: Nutiva Organic Granulated Coconut Sugar

Nutiva Organic Unrefined Granulated Coconut Sugar

Courtesy of Amazon

If you like the texture and light caramel flavor of brown sugar but are looking for a slightly healthier alternative, Nutiva's Organic Coconut Sugar is an excellent choice. Coconut sugar, a natural sugar made from the sap of coconut palms, contains beneficial nutrients such as minerals and antioxidants, and inulin fiber, which helps to slow absorption of the sugar. It's less processed than white sugar but contains a comparable amount of calories—18 calories per teaspoon.

Nutiva's USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified coconut sugar contains small amounts of potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and B vitamins. Plus, it has a lower glycemic index than sugar, so it won't cause much of a spike in blood sugar when consumed. It's an easy substitute for sugar and can be used as a one-to-one replacement for cane and brown sugar.

Best Honey: Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey

Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey KFactor 16+

Courtesy of Walmart

Not all sugar alternatives are created equal. With multiple extensively researched health benefits—including anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties—honey is one of the best natural sweeteners on the market.

Manuka honey, a type of honey native to New Zealand, contains more antibacterial properties than traditional honey due to its active ingredient, methylglyoxal, as well as it's total phenol content. Wedderspoon's Raw Monofloral Manuka Honey fits the bill of multi-functional superfood. Each jar is sourced, packed, and sealed in New Zealand, the home to Manuka honey. This Non-GMO Project Verified honey is raw and unpasteurized—or not processed—which protects the beneficial nutrients.

Wedderspoon independently measures the antibacterial potency of their Manuka honey using a measure called KFactor, which ensures you're getting the highest quality honey. This product has a KFactor 16, meaning that the honey is made primarily from the Manuka plant as opposed to a blend. If you're not a fan of honey jars, Wedderspoon offers a mess-free squeeze bottle and convenient travel packs to take with you on-the-go. It's important to note that manuka honey should be used in small amounts rather than as a regular pantry staple.

Best Maple Syrup: Coombs Family Farms Organic Maple Syrup

Coombs Family Farms Organic Maple Syrup

Courtesy of Amazon

Maple syrup—a family favorite for topping waffles and pancakes—is a fantastic sugar alternative. The Certified Organic Coombs Family Farms Maple Syrup offers a robust, sweet boost to your favorite recipes with the distinct maple flavor. Maple syrup is not a low-calorie option, as 1/4 cup contains 200 calories. However, it does provide some beneficial nutrients. One 1/4-cup serving contains 8 percent of your daily value for calcium.

American-made pure maple syrup used to come in different grades such as A and B—a confusing system that delineated color rather than quality—but now all maple syrups are "Grade A" with varying classifications of color and taste. The dark color and robust flavor are comparable to a "dark amber" variety.

Choosing Coombs' Maple Syrup is a sweet addition to your life—and is beneficial to the planet. Coombs supports sustainable forestry and advocates for small farmers.

Best Molasses: Wholesome Blackstrap Molasses

Wholesome Organic Blackstrap Molasses

Courtesy of iHerb

Research suggests that blackstrap molasses contains the highest amounts of antioxidants among sweeteners, including maple syrup and honey. This dark, bitter substance is what remains after all the sugar has been extracted from raw sugar cane. The intense flavor can overpower recipes, so it's best to use the bittersweet, sticky liquid in small amounts.

Wholesome Sweetener's full-bodied USDA Organic Molasses adds a natural caramel color and flavor to your favorite recipes, including gingerbread, bran muffins, marinades, and BBQ sauces. With 60 calories and 14g carbohydrates per 1 tablespoon serving, Wholesome's Grade-A, unsulphured molasses is not low calorie or low-carb; however, it does contain 10 percent of your daily value of calcium and 20 percent of your daily iron needs. For this reason, molasses is a top sweetener for vegans.

Final Verdict

For an excellent substitute for sugar, try Sweetleaf Organic Stevia (view at Amazon). If you prefer a more natural alternative with antioxidants, consider Wedderspoon Manuka Honey (view at Amazon).

What to Look for in a Sugar Alternative


Sugar alternatives come in different forms, such as powder and liquid, depending on the product. They also come in various types of packaging and volumes. If you're a baker and use a considerable amount of sugar alternatives, you may want to opt for a large container. Alternatively, if you choose to take your sugar alternative with you on-the-go, individual packets are a convenient choice.


The calorie content of sugar alternatives varies depending on the product you choose. For example, if you are looking for a low or zero-calorie sweetener, monk fruit extract, stevia, or erythritol may be good choices. If the higher calorie sugar alternatives—such as maple syrup, honey, molasses, or coconut sugar—fit into your daily calorie goals, those options may be an optimal white sugar alternative.

Sugar and Carbs:

If you watch your sugar and carbohydrate intake, you will need to consider these two factors when choosing a sugar alternative. Some substitutes are low in carbs and sugar and have little effect on blood sugar, whereas higher carb sugar alternatives may cause blood sugar responses similar to regular white sugar.


Sugar alternatives vary in flavor and sweetness. Some products, particularly the more processed options, have bitter aftertastes. If you prefer a very sweet alternative to sugar, stevia or monk fruit is sweeter than regular sugar. Maple syrup, honey, and molasses have distinct individual flavors, whereas coconut sugar tends to taste very similar to white sugar with a hint of coconut.

Health Benefits:

Some sugar alternatives contain health benefits such as antioxidants and minerals. Consider these benefits as an added bonus, but also weigh the overall implications of increased dietary sugar—or sugar alternative—consumption.

Health Concerns:

Sugar alternatives can be controversial, and research varies despite many substitutes being considered "safe" by the FDA. When choosing a substitute for sugar, consider the different evidence available on a particular substance. For example, it's important to note that large portions of sugar alcohols may cause digestive distress such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. If that's your preferred substitute for sugar, stick with small amounts.

What Experts Say

"When choosing a substitute for sugar, it's important to think about the product's impact on blood sugar and insulin. Maple syrup and honey are two natural options, but keep in mind that they also impact insulin and blood sugar. These products should be used moderately and considered in your overall sugar allotment for the day in accordance with the WHO and AHA sugar guidelines. If the goal is to have little or no effect on blood sugar and insulin, erythritol, monk fruit, and stevia are great choices." — Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RDN

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

A personal note on my recommendations written above. As a dietitian, I am not always comfortable recommending sugar alternatives. I frequently recommend natural sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup, but understand that these higher-carbohydrate, higher-calorie options may not work for all individuals. After spending time reviewing the most current clinical research and looking at multiple products, however, I came up with a list of products that I would recommend to someone looking to use a substitute for sugar.

Note that the USDA 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines recommend that added sugars be limited to less than 10 percent of calories per day. I believe the sugar alternatives in the round-up are made by trusted brands are composed of high-quality ingredients. "Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

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Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements; you can read more about our dietary supplement methodology here

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