Natural Sugar Substitutes 

Not for Daniel Diet 

Natural sugar substitutes provide flavor and nutrients. Recipes are healthier and remain simple to prepare. 

Cravings for sweets can be satisfied with fresh fruit. Most are sweet and easy to digest. Other sugar alternatives include many whole food sweeteners such as honey, molasses, maple syrup, fruit juice, or barley malt. All sugars should be used in moderation.

However, the sugars that contain a low glycemic index (GI) are  preferred.

The glycemic index (GI) according to FitSugar and Organic Lifestyle magazine researchers is the ranking of carbohydrates from 0-100, based on how they affect your blood sugar levels after eating them. Our goal is to keep blood sugar levels constant.

The GI measures how much glucose is released into the blood stream within 2-3 hours. If the index is high, then it is released fast and causes a spike in blood sugar levels. We should also be watchful of the glycemic load (GL), which is the amount of glucose entering the blood stream. The GL is determined by the type of carbohydrate, refined or unrefined, high-nutrient, and amount that is consumed.

Natural Sugar Substitutes 


Raw Honey - GI 30

Twice as sweet as refined sugar. Should be kept at room temperature.      

Raw honey is all-natural and comes in many colors depending upon the plant, nectar and, of course, region of the country.       

Diabetics must be careful with honey because it is absorbed like refined sugar.  

Caution: Never give honey to any child under age one, due to possible botulism spores, which can be fatal to infants.

Replace 1 cup refined sugar:

1/2 cup

Reduce Liquid by:

1/4 cup

Molasses - GI 55

Used in baking and as a flavoring agent. Tastes great with pancakes and some cookies. 

Blackstrap molasses is the by-product of the refined sugar process. It is what is left over after white table sugar has been created. It is high in minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium. 

Barbados molasses is made directly from sugar can juice which is boiled down to syrup. It has fewer minerals than blackstrap molasses.       

1/2 cup

1/4 cup

Maple Syrup - GI 54

Comes from the sap of maple trees which has been boiled down to make a concentrated  sweetener. 

Grade A Has a delicate flavor and a lighter amber color. 

Grade B Is thicker, darker, has more minerals and a stronger flavor.  

1/2-2/3 cup

1/4 cup


Fruit Sweeteners - GI 30

Most common are apple, white grape, and pear juices. 

Often used in its concentrated state.

Replace 1 cup refined sugar:

1 cup

Reduce Liquid by:

1/3 cup

Grain Sweeteners

Sweetener of choice among natural enthusiasts. Largely composed of carbohydrates and are absorbed by the body, slowly. The two main types are barley malt and brown, rich syrup.

Barley malt - GI 42

Made from sprouted barley. It is half as sweet as refined white sugar.

Brown Rice - GI 25

Made from brown rice and sprouted barley. Has a mild flavor and the highest protein content of any natural sweetener.

1 to 1-1/4 cup


Date Sugar - 40

Date sugar is dried granulated dates. It has a sweetness that is close to refined sugar.

Best used for cooking and baking.

1 cup


Turbinado - GI 65

It is an unrefined sugar, which contains the dehydrated juice of organically grown sugar cane and some molasses. 

It contains all the vitamins and minerals sugar cane contains before it is processed into white sugar.

1 cup


Stevia - GI 0

An herbal (food) supplement that is much sweeter than sugar without the side effects. Stevia nourishes the pancreas and does not raise blood glucose levels.

 *Suggested Sweetener for Diabetics

Use as directed

Agave Nectar - GI 15

Agave Nectar is a slow-carb, natural sweetener with the low glycemic index. It has a sweet flavor that won’t overpower food.

It is harvested from the Mexican desert. Can be used by diabetics.

Use as directed


  1. Weber, Mercea, Naturally Sweet Desserts, Avery Publishing, New York, 1990.
  3. Balch, James F. Balch, Phyllis, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Avery, New York, 3rd edition
  4. Zima Health Labs, Annapolis

-natural sugar substitutes

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