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Five Healthier Alternatives to White Sugar

Sugar is everywhere. It’s the main ingredient to almost every kind of dessert, cake, pastry, or drink—and lurks in more foods than we realize. It’s even found in main dishes that are savory, fruits, vegetables, and dairy. However, various studies have shown that too much sugar, especially the common table white sugar is in fact bad for your health. According to a study published in Journal of the American Heart Association, strong evidence suggests that sugar can increase the risk of heart failure. Even more studies link excess sugar to cancer and diabetes. Natural sugars found in fruits are good for you, but added sugars, especially the white kind, aren’t doing your health any favors. In an ideal world, we could all easily just ditch the sugar altogether, but if you can’t, here are five alternatives that do the trick. Just remember, everything in moderation!

1. Coconut Sap Sugar

Coconut sugar has more vitamins and minerals than white sugar—including vitamin C, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, and zinc, but it has a much lower glycemic index than white sugar. This means the effect it has on our blood sugar levels are much less than white sugar, therefore helping our bodies moderate insulin levels.

2. Pure Maple Syrup

We don’t mean the kind you can buy in any grocery and eat with pancakes—the real deal comes is natural sweetener that comes straight from the trunk of a maple tree. It’s rich in essential nutrients, enhances liver function (according to a study published by the University of Tokyo), and is an especially rich source of zinc and magnesium, which strengthens the immune system.

3. Honey

It’s sweet, it’s syrupy, and it’s completely natural. Honey has been used since ancient times, both for food and for medical uses. Honey is made up of a complex mix of natural sugars, which is good news for the body—the more complex something is, the harder it is for the body to break down and absorb. It spends more energy breaking it down, making you accumulate less calories from it.

4. Agave Nectar

This honey-like sweetener is also natural and plant-based—it’s the sap taken from the agave plant. Much like maple syrup, it’s packed with nutrients and hidden health benefits. However, eat too much and it’s just as bad as white sugar. Keep consumption to a tablespoon per sitting to make sure you don’t go overboard.

5. Stevia

Stevia is a South American plant traditionally used as a sweetener for tea and other beverages. It’s packed with potassium, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B, and is often used to sweeten protein bars and granola. It’s also packed with fiber, which means it’s good for digestion and helps prevent constipation. However, it’s about three times sweeter than sugar—so use it sparingly because a little goes a long way!

Trisha Bautista is a freelance writer, food and product stylist, social media manager, and violin teacher. She was formerly editorial assistant and social media editor for Women’s Health Philippines, and the assistant lifestyle editor and social media editor for Cosmopolitan Philippines. She enjoys discovering easy recipe hacks, working out by herself and trying out DIY workout programs, traveling outdoors, and enjoying wine and whiskey.

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