6 Guilt-free Sugar Substitutes

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Some people assume making a shift to a healthier lifestyle means giving up sugar. It’s true that the average North American eats way more sugar than ever before. In the past 300 years, we’ve increased our average sugar consumption from 4 pounds per year to about 3 pounds per week!

And no wonder – processed food manufacturers add sugar to practically everything we eat, from soft drinks to savory sauces and spreads. The fact is that the types of sugar these companies use are making us fat and sick. Whether it’s high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, sucralose, saccharin or another super-sweet additive, the sugars in processed food greatly increase your risk of heart disease, obesity, hypertension, stroke and many other illnesses.

The good news is, not all sugars are that bad for you. Your cells depend on glucose to function – it is their energy source. The problems arise from highly processed varieties and over-consumption, particularly of sugary drinks. You can satisfy your sweet tooth Power of Food style with these yummy, easy to find natural foods and help protect your body from sugar-induced disease.

1. Honey

Honey is sweet, and I mean that both ways. Metabolization starts immediately and continues over a long period of time for a quick boost followed by sustained energy. Also, thanks to its antimicrobial properties it makes a great dressing for wounds or burns, speeding healing and reducing scarring. Honey is sweeter than sugar and contains lots of water, so you should use about 1/4 to 1/2 the amount of honey as your recipe calls for in sugar, then subtract a similar amount from your liquid ingredients to compensate.

Try it now: Honey-sweetened Super Smoothie


Dates are one of my favourite natural sweeteners. I use dried, pitted dates in baking, smoothies, desserts, and all kinds of recipes. It takes a bit of planning and preparation, though. To use dates as a sweetener, soak them in filtered water for an hour or two, or even overnight, then throw them into the food processor or blender with the water to make a date syrup. Again, remember to reduce the volume of liquid ingredients to compensate for the water content.

Try it now: Date-sweetened Gluten-Free Banana Bread

3. Coconut Sugar

Coconut Sugar is very low on the glycemic index, making it safe for diabetics. It’s also high in B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. It may not be the easiest thing to find on your supermarket shelves, but it is becoming more widely available as public awareness of its awesomeness increases. You can use about the same amount as you would use cane sugar in your recipes. Keep in mind that it is not soluble, so it’s not the best way to sweeten your tea or coffee.

Try it now: Coconut-sweetened Quinoa Vanilla Pudding

4. Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup is a favourite around our house. We get 100% pure, sweet syrup directly from my wife’s family maple farm. It’s low in calories and high in manganese and zinc. It has a characteristic flavour that may not jive with every recipe in your arsenal, but do a little experimenting anyway and let your tastebuds decide. As with any liquid sugar, remember to reduce the volume of the liquids your recipe calls for.

Try it now: Maple-sweetened Chocolate Mousse

5. Molasses

Molasses – blackstrap molasses in particular – is chock full of essential vitamins and minerals. Due to its high iron content, it’s a great choice for pregnant or menstruating women, who are at risk of iron deficiency. With its strong flavour, it’s a good idea to pair molasses with another natural source of sugar in your recipes rather than use it exclusively. Dribbling a little bit of blackstrap molasses straight onto a grapefruit is a great way to start the day!

6. Stevia

Stevia is becoming increasingly popular and can often be found in your local supermarket. The compounds that give stevia its sweet taste can be up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, with a slower hitting, longer lasting taste. It’s derived from a variety of shrub which has been consumed as a sweet treat and a powerful medicine by Central and South American people for centuries, and is safe for diabetics. This is not my favourite sweetener, as its aftertaste can be a little bitter. Also, the process used to extract the sweetness from the natural leaf involves chemicals and high heat, which compromise its nutritional value.

Indulge Yourself Without the Guilt: Sugar-Free Recipes

Try my new recipe for dairy-free, sugar-free and guilt-free honey almond ice cream. Or check out my all-natural dessert recipes if you are looking for some inspiration to get started!

I hope you enjoy experimenting with these guilt-free sweeteners at home. I’d love to hear about your own recipes and experiences in the comments below!

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About Adam Hart

Adam Hart is the bestselling author of The Power of Food. When not on stage speaking, Adam can be found helping one of his many corporate clients in awakening an abundance of energy through his highly engaging stress management solutions.Contact Adam to book a demo for an enhanced corporate wellness experience.


  1. Molasses is my chosen substitute. YUM.

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