The Skinny on Sugar Alternatives

by Polly N on May 9, 2012

Following my post last week on how agave isn’t as good for you as you may think, I wanted to give you some good news that there are plenty of other sugar alternatives that are! Hoorah! Because life just wouldn’t be as sweet without a little healthy sugar honey!



Raw honey has been filling my cupboards for a while now and my family and I love it, more than conventional honey. You might be wondering what the difference is between the two; raw honey has not been pasteurized or filtered, and is ideally taken directly from the hive. It is a powerful antisteptic and antibacterial powerhouse of nutrients. It can be used topically to help skin abrasions or infections heal quicker.

When you think of sugar alternatives, blackstrap molasses might not immediately spring to mind but unsulphured organic molasses are rich in vitamins and minerals and unlike agave, is low GI having a minimal effect on blood sugar. It is thought to be incredibly healing, especially for arthritis, ulcers, high-blood pressure, anemia, gall-stones and skin conditions. Similar in taste to molasses, is yacon syrup which is mildly glycaemic and can be used in place of agave.

Similar in taste to molasses, is yacon syrup which is mildly glycaemic and can be used in place of agave.

Coconut sugar is the new favourite sugar on the block for many reasons; it is a low GI sugar sustainably harvested from the coconut palm flower; it is low in fructose and contains essential vitamins & amino acids, mineral salts and B vitamins.

I always thought that maple syrup was a sugar baddie as I assumed it was high in sugar and most likely highly glycaemic. It just looks naughty! However with more research I discovered that this little wonder food has a lot to offer. It contains potassium, calcium, zinc, manganese, small amounts of iron and B-vitamins helping to boost the immune system and protect the heart.

I’ve been using dates in my raw food recipes since the very beginning of my raw journey because they are just so versatile and easy to use. Personally, I prefer to use organic Medjool dates as they are the easiest to work with but if you can’t find them, use what you can and soak to soften before using. You can use them as they are, or soak them and blend with water to make date paste.

Xylitol has all the sweetness of the common sugars yet 40% fewer calories. Proven to fight cavities, safe for diabetics and those with cancer and candida, is excellent in weight management and with a low GI, it is an ideal alternative for anyone with glucose-related problems.

I have been using and selling stevia for a while now because I think it is a brilliant sugar alternative. It has no effect on blood sugar, has no calories or carbs and is safe for those with cancer, candida or diabetes. Here are a few more reasons why stevia rocks.

So there you have it. No need to feel sad about agave lying to us because we have all these other wonderful options! I would just like to remind you however that sugar is sugar is sugar is sugar. Go easy and consume sensibly and in moderation.

Do you already use any of the above? Let me know in the comments below if you will be trying any listed above?

Addicted to sugar? Check out these 10 tips on Kicking Sugar Cravings from Hungry For Change.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth May 9, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Hi Polly,

I first heard your story on The Wright Stuff and bookmarked your website thinking I’d get around to reading ‘at some point…’. Well, that was a little while ago now, but I recently read several of Jason Vale’s books and started my first juicing programme a few weeks ago. It is proving a great catalyst for a positive change in lifestyle and investment in my health.
The juicing turned my mind back to you and your website which I have been reading in depth and I want to thank you for putting all this information out there for all to read, I am learning so much!

You’re such an inspiring person. I am thankful that my reason to start juicing / living a healthier lifestyle is as simple as wanting to lose a little weight and not the development of serious illness or cancer.
I wish you all the very best on your journey and thank you again for your inspiration.

Much love,
Elizabeth xx


Maryden25 May 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Thanks for this healthy post from you Polly! I’m glad that I have found your blog site. This is very helpful to people like me who is diabetic and needs to maintain my sugar level.


Louise May 12, 2012 at 8:59 am

Hey Polly i am Raw Vegan i have read up about sugar alternatives ALOT and chose not to use agave, and instead rely on dates/ apricots and fruit to sweeten. I do not use honey as it is an animal product, but i am afraid i am quite ignorant because i do not know what bees actually use their honey for? They do not eat it, do they? So therefore, does using honey actually deprive them of anything? I know some vegans use honey, and others do not and since i became raw vegan about a year ago, i have not used it but the benefits are wonderful and i know it has been used since ancient times.


Angela July 24, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Hey, just some feedback on the article, great stuff but you might want to check your sentence: ‘When you think of sugar alternatives, blackstrap molasses might not immediately spring to mind but unsulphured organic molasses are rich in vitamins and minerals and unlike agave, is low GI having a minimal effect on blood sugar’, pretty sure that although agave has a lot of fructose, it is low in glucose and therefore has minimal effects on blood sugar (although it does affect insulin and tricylcerides) whereas being made from cane sugar molasses is high Gi, although rich in minerals. So, around the other way? All the best,


Viv February 18, 2013 at 6:18 pm


Just a quick question really. I suffer from anemia and am looking for House of Herbs Black Strap Molasses un-sulphured (contains 70% iron) but can’t seem to find in here in the UK….any ideas please?




polly February 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Hi Viv, I had a look online for you and it looks like House of Herbs are no longer as I was going to suggest you contacting them directly to ask where they stock. When you eat high iron foods such as spinach etc be sure to squeeze orange juice over it as vit c increases your bodys ability to absorb the iron. Hope that helps.


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