The Sweet Lowdown – Which Sweetener Is Right For Me?

It’s in virtually everything these days – sugar, or some sweet substitute for it. There are a million alternatives on the health food store shelves – but which one is right for you? Let’s break ’em down!

The Classics

White Sugar – Just sugar. Historically, this was highly-processed cane sugar, but nowadays it is usually made from highly-processed beet sugar. This is one of the most commonly genetically modified foods, and is really high on the glycemic index.

Glycemic Index: 68

Brown Sugar – Commonly believed to be better than white sugar, brown sugar is actually one step MORE processed than its white counterpart. Brown sugar is made by adding molasses to white sugar, which gives it some mineral content, but not much else.

Glycemic Index: 64

Icing Sugar – White sugar, finely ground, plus cornstarch. That’s about it.

The Better Options

Cane Sugar – (Known at Moberly as both cane sugar and blonde sugar) Cane sugar is similar to old-school white sugar, but a less processed form with more minerals intact.

Glycemic Index: 65

Sucanat – “Sucanat” comes from Sugar Cane Natural. It is the pressed juice of the sugar cane which is then dehydrated, retaining its molasses (the part that is stripped away in processed sugars), and therefore its minerals. Minerals are important, because they help reduce the glycemic index.

Glycemic Index: 55


Coconut Palm Sugar – This is made by tapping the nectar of the coconut palm tree, then drying the juice into crystals. This is a low-glycemic alternative to cane sugars, and is chock-full of minerals.

Glycemic Index: 35

The Liquids


Unpasteurized Honey – Full of vitamins and minerals (Manuka Honey has a 4x higher “conductivity”, or mineral content, than regular honey), strong antimicrobial properties, and the only food in existence that will never expire!

Glycemic Index: 50 – 60


Maple Syrup – A pancake’s best friend, this is another mineral-rich option for your sweetening pleasure!

Glycemic Index: 54

Molasses – All of the minerals that were stripped out of sugar cane to create old-school white sugar. Yay minerals!

Glycemic Index: 55 – 60

Brown Rice Syrup – This is a fructose-free sweetener, making it better than many sugars, but it is relatively low in mineral content.

Glycemic Index: 25


Agave Nectar – Once heralded as the mother of all sweeteners, agave nectar isn’t as beneficial as we once thought, as it is higher in fructose. Still lower on the glycemic index than white sugar, but more processed than its above counterparts

Glycemic Index: 15

The Sugar-Free Options


Stevia – Stevia is a natural, zero-calorie sweetener option. It is made from a leaf, so you don’t have to worry about chemicals and, if you choose natural brands, no heavy processing. While it is available in powder and liquid form, the liquid is generally considered superior, as fillers must be used to create a powdered stevia.

Glycemic Index: 0

Xylitol – Xylitol is a sweetener that sits on the fence between natural and artificial. It is a sugar alcohol, which is essentially a sugar molecule that has been altered so it still tastes sweet, but is undigestible by the human body, meaning that it essentially has zero calories. It can cause digestive upset for some people, so use with caution. It is a natural cavity-preventative, so it is often found in toothpastes and chewing gum.

Glycemic Index: 12

The Avoid-At-All-Costs Artificial Sweeteners

Aspartame, Splenda, etc – Artificial sweeteners have been linked to many problems throughout the body, including cancers, digestive problems, neurological issues, endocrine disruptions, etc. You won’t find these ingredients anywhere on the shelves at Moberly.

Glycemic Index: 0 – 80

What sweeteners do you use in your favorite recipes?

About The Author: 
Kelly Boaz, CNP
Kelly is a holistic nutritionist, specializing in eating disorder recovery and food freedom. She is also a public speaker (TEDx King St. West, TDSB) and a writer. Learn more about Kelly, and about booking private consultations at Twitter: @kelly_boaz    Facebook: /KellyBoazDotCom



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