5 Best Sugar Substitutes | Real sugar vs fake sugar

February 23, 2021Janine

5 Best Sugar Substitutes | Real sugar vs fake sugar!

We can’t talk about the 5 Best Sugar Substitutes without also starting with the sugar we all know well … cane sugar. It’s in candy, chocolate, confectionery, lollies, gum, soft drink, soda, cakes, sauces and so much more.

Different types of cane sugar 

  • Granulated sugar – regular white table sugar
  • Castor sugar – finer but still granulated white sugar
  • Icing sugar \ confectioners’ sugar \ powdered sugar – white sugar which has been ground to a powder
  • Sanding sugar (large crystals) – often used in baking
  • Demerara sugar – raw cane sugar with a little molasses still in it
  • Turbinado sugar – raw cane sugar with some molasses and a caramel flavour
  • Muscovado sugar – raw cane sugar with all molasses; sticky, wet sandy texture with a flavour stronger than brown sugar
  • Light and dark brown sugar – refined white sugar with molasses added; less in light, more in dark
  • Molasses – or black treacle, is extracted from sugarcane or sugar beets, and comes from harvesting and boiling the syrup two to three times to extract the bitter, thick molasses. It is high in vitamin B6 and minerals
  • Golden syrup – a thick amber syrup made from cane or beet sugar that still has some molasses in it.

5 Best Sugar Substitutes

Other natural sugars with 3 really great options! 😉

No 1 great option… Maple Syrup
– a natural syrup made from tapping a sugar maple tree of its sap which is boiled to evaporate the extra water then filtered to remove impurities. Most made in Canada. Still high sugar content but also contains minerals and antioxidants. Great for baking without an overpowering taste.

No 2 great option… Honey – is made from bees collecting nectar from flowers. This process reduces the moisture content changing the nectar into honey, which is stores in honeycombs. It is high in fructose making it sweeter than sugar and has a high glycemic index. Apart from tasting good, honey is high in vitamins and minerals and particularly has antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic properties due to the flavonoid antioxidant content. Good for baking but has a strong taste that can take over other flavours.

No 3 great option… Palm sugar / Coconut sugar – made from the sap of coconut trees, the sap is left to dry to create crystals. Like maple sugar, it is high in sucrose but also contacts some minerals. Good for baking but does have a strong taste which may take over the flavours.

High fructose corn syrup – produced from corn starch and found in lots of processed foods, spikes insulin, number one cause of insulin resistance and weight gain. Found in lots of processed food. Avoid at all costs

Agave syrup or nectar – made from the agave plant- still contains 70-90% fructose and will spike blood sugar like HFCS

5 Best Sugar Substitutes 🙂

What are the 5 best sugar substitutes? We break down the best options for you when trying to remove sugar from your diet or reduce carbohydrate intake.


the sweetener is made from the stevia plant which is part of the chrysanthemum family. The sugar is made from refining the stevia leaf extract and is about 200 times the sweetness of table sugar. It does not affect your blood sugar, has a zero glycaemic index, and is effective in weight management, has no known side effects BUT THE TASTE is rather bad.

Monk fruit

Monk fruit sweetener is made from the extract derived from dried fruit. The extract is 150-250 times sweeter than table sugar, has zero calories and carbs, and does not raise blood glucose levels – has no known side effects and effective for weight loss BUT THE TASTE is also very bad.


is a sugar alcohol and is found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. It does not contain alcohol; it just has it in its name. Similar sweetness and white sugar but half as many calories. It is an empty calorie and processed from trees such as birch tree. Xylitol Has a Very Low Glycaemic Index and Doesn’t Spike Blood Sugar or Insulin. Tastes great, very mild and easy to use.


A sugar alcohol made by fermenting glucose from corn starch. It contains only 1/8 of the calories that sugar does per gram, making it a very low-calories sweetener that rarely affects blood sugar.  Appears to be safe although consumed in high quantities may cause bloating and gas as around 10% will move into the colon and ferments. Also, no good for people on low FODMAPS as it’s technically a FODMAP fibre.  Taste = good but has a cooling effect when in contact with water. Also not good for a crunchy snap such as needed in cookies or biscuits.


is made from fruit and grains and is similar in taste and composition to table sugar. Up to 85% of allulose is absorbed into the blood but the body eliminates it through your urine without using it as fuel. It resists fermentation in the gut so no digestive problems. Does not spike blood sugar and has a great taste, being about 70% sweetness of regular sugar. In fact, some studies show that it can be beneficial by reducing insulin sensitivity, lowering blood sugar. And reducing a fatty liver. BUT is not available in Australia or Europe yet. 

and a substitutes that we don’t recommend

Maltitol – also a sugar alcohol made from corn starch. Low in carbs but will still spike your blood sugar. Also, Maltitol has been known to cause serious digestion issues such as indigestion, nausea, gas, bloating, stomach pain and diarrhoea. It’s commonly used in sugar-free confectionery because it’s cheap.

Artificial sugars 🙁

Aspartame – completely artificial, almost zero calories with no glycaemic index. Funny after-taste and is commonly used in sugar-free soft drink or sodas. BUT very controversial with studies linking it to lung and other cancers. (https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/ehp.8711)  For many, it causes headaches and nausea. Not a good sugar substitute for drinks or baking.

Saccharin – (Sweet’n’low, Necta Sweet and Sweet Twin) – an artificial sugar made in a lab with no calories or carbs. Is 300-400 times sweeter than sugar but has an unpleasant bitter aftertaste. Often mixed with aspartame in drinks. FDA has classified it as safe however studies have linked it to the development of bladder and other cancers. (see references below).

If you’d like to check out our refined sugar-free cake recipes, click here 



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