Which Natural Sweetener Is Healthiest? Health Expert Shares The Facts

If you have a sweet tooth that beckons you to indulge in something sweet on a daily basis, then it might be time to consider alternatives to conventional sugar. While the packaging of raw, unrefined sugars and syrups like agave nectar might imply that they are healthier than white sugar, they’re not. In the video above, plant-based health expert Dr. Michael Greger breaks down which sweeteners are actually the best for your health.

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Most sugars, whether white sugar, brown rice syrup, or maple syrup, are practically the same in terms of nutritional content in that compared to the amount of refined sugar, they have little to no nutrition. In fact, agave nectar ranks behind conventional white sugar in containing nutrients. Brown rice syrup is last on the list. At the top of the list, with nutritional content that outpaces the other sweeteners by a much higher amount, are blackstrap molasses and date sugar.

Date sugar, because it is made from dried, pulverized dates, rather than undergoing a refinement process, is actually a whole food and thus retains all the vitamins and minerals found in dates. Date sugar can be used as a replacement for sugar in baking, but note that since it is a whole food, it won’t melt like conventional sugar, so the texture of your baked goods might end up different from what you are used to. Date sugar can also be used as a thickener for hot chocolate. Learn how to make your own date sugar here and then try it in these One-Bowl Date Sugar Brownies.

Blackstrap molasses, meanwhile, is the byproduct of the sugar refinement process. After the sugar cane has been boiled three times and the refined sugar crystals have been collected, blackstrap molasses is what’s leftover — and it’s a good source of minerals like iron and calcium. Blackstrap molasses, like date sugar, can be used as a sweetener in baked goods and has a robust flavor that’s enjoyable in chillier weather. To learn more about both, read Ingredient Spotlight: Blackstrap Molasses, a Robust Syrup That is Rich in Iron and Calcium and try blackstrap molasses instead of brown rice syrup in these Triple Ginger Tahini Cookies.