How to … say goodbye to sugar

You can still cater for sweet-tooths by substituting with these natural products.

When we pull out our mums’ or grandmothers’ recipes, the amount of sugar in the sweet treats is considerable – and probably unnecessary in those quantities. Refined sugar is on the hit list of most dieticians, but there are a number of natural alternatives you can use to replace sugar in your diet. Nutritionists say that using these healthier products can lower your risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer.

Agave nectar
Extracted from the same plant from which tequila is made, agave nectar is sweeter than normal sugar. You only need to use a small amount.

Brown rice syrup
With a taste similar to a light honey, brown rice syrup is made by treating whole grain rice with enzymes.

Date sugar
As the name suggests, date sugar is made from dehydrated, ground dates. It can’t be used as an alternative for refined sugar in your tea or coffee as it doesn’t melt, but it can be used for baking.

Tasting very much like sugar but only containing six per cent of the calories, Erythritol is a sugar alcohol and an excellent alternative to refined sugar.

Used for centuries to promote many health benefits, honey – in particular, Manuka or raw honey – is one of the most popular natural sweeteners available.

Maple syrup
A concentrated sticky syrup made from the sap taken from maple trees, it is a good alternative to use in your cooking.

Molasses is created as a by-product when sugar cane is processed to make refined sugar. So while it is still sugar, the amount you will use in your cooking will be much less than when using refined white sugar.

Monk fruit
With its zero calorie content and low glycaemic index, lo han kuo (more popularly known as monk fruit) is a great alternative to sugar. The sweetener is extracted by crushing the monk fruit and infusing it with hot water, which results in a light-brown powder.

Extracted from the leaves of a plant found inParaguay andBrazil, Stevia is a natural sweetener that is available in both liquid and powder form. Its sweetness is around 300 times that of sucrose from sugar, so you will use a lot less when adding it into your dishes.

With a sweetness similar to sugar, Xylitol is a sugar extracted from corn or birch wood and found in many fruits and vegetables.

Are you trying to cut refined sugar from your diet? What natural products have you used instead of sugar?


    Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.


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    9th Sep 2018
    Just cut out sugar. No replacement needed.

    9th Sep 2018
    Just cut out sugar. No replacement needed.
    9th Sep 2018
    I believe the last mentioned - Xylitol - is poisonous to dogs. Worth knowing if you have pets.
    9th Sep 2018
    Now we are being ridiculous.
    Take a look at Grandma's recipes. Now take a look at the photos of Grandma from age 20-50 and all the people around her. They are all thin! Even the ones we thought were tubby were thin on today's standards.
    Its far more complex than eating sugar. Enjoy your sugar, your fat, your meat, your veggies but source as much as you can from natural base line foods and stay away from take away and restaurant food. Now put on those shoes and start moving.
    9th Sep 2018
    It is the packaged foods these days Rosret, it unbalances everything. Also people never ate too much, especially meat and dairy which are very high in fat and calories. My mum told me meat was the smallest bit on their plate.
    9th Sep 2018
    If one is advised to cut out sugar, perhaps because of obesity or type II diabetes, it is absolutely misleading to recommend replacing table sugar with honey, molasses etc!! All except xylitol and stevia contain kilojoules and can have the adverse effects on metabolism that cane sugar has.
    9th Sep 2018
    A teaspoon of honey is only 20 calories and more easily absorbed by the body.
    10th Sep 2018
    Totally agree, Amelia. I've Type 2 diabetes. It is not far short of irresponsible (at best, very ignorant) to mention such items as rice syrup, molasses and date sugar as replacements for cane sugar in a diabetic diet. I seriously wonder about YLC at times!!
    9th Sep 2018
    I have researched sugar replacements and found that most of these are no good for your health. Agave and Rice Syrup are high GI for a start. I started using pure maple which is healthy but very sweet and expensive and not Australian. I have now gone back to honey bought from a local hive, full of nutrients, and I find I crave sugar less now. Do your research before changing and there are also other things at play that give you health and weight problems, mainly too much packaged food, junk food, over processed foods and too much high fat and calorie foods like meat, eggs and dairy. Low fat wholefood plant based diet has proven to reverse diabetes and other diseases.

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