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Although we all crave a sweet treat from time to time, the bitter truth is that refined sugar is not very good for you. Unfortunately, it's found in almost all of the foods we eat and enjoy. While it would be near impossible to cut sugar out of your diet entirely, it is possible to reduce your overall sugar intake with a few simple changes. There are many things you can substitute for refined sugar to curb your cravings without compromising your diet.


Bringing you all the nutrients removed from refined sugar, including iron, magnesium and zinc, molasses is an ideal alternative to sugar particularly when it comes to baking. Where does molasses come from? It's a by-product of the sugar cane refining process, meaning it has the same sweetness with an added rich, dark flavor.


Turns out the honey in your tea has been doing more good than you thought! This natural flower nectar that's collected by your friendly neighborhood honey bees, brings you all kinds of health benefits, including alleviating your allergies and boosting your energy. This is especially true of raw honey, which doesn't require any processing at all.

Agave Syrup

This super-sweet alternative to refined sugar does its job so well, it only requires you to use a couple drops to get the same level of sweetness. Agave syrup is made by boiling agave leaves from the blue agave plant, which is also used to make agave tequila. Use it in moderation because of its very high fructose content.

Maple Syrup

We love it on waffles and pancakes, but now you have a good reason to love in all of your baking recipes. Maple syrup is the harvested sap from maple trees and typically contains 70% sucrose and low-fructose levels. It's also been found to contain antioxidants, which have the power to act as anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agents.

Lo Han (Monkfruit)

Lo Han or monkfruit is a herbaceous perennial vine that hails from China and is a natural alternative to sugar. This gourd has been used for centuries to treat diabetes and obesity and is calorie-free as well as rich in antioxidants making it perfectly acceptable to load up on.

Coconut Sugar

The ultimate alternative for diabetics, coconut sugar slows glucose absorption because it contains a fiber called Inulin. It also contains healthy nutrients like zinc, calcium and potassium but is high in calories, so use it wisely.

Date Sugar

Ideal for baking, date sugar is especially sweet (low quantities required!) and is made from dried dates that are then pulverized into powder. Though it doesn't melt and is therefore not a great coffee sweetener, it can be used to sweeten up your desserts before you pop them in the oven.

With so many wonderful (and healthy) alternatives to refined sugar, we wonder why we didn't start implementing these natural ingredients into our lives sooner. Now you can have your cake and eat it too—guilt-free!

Photos: Sea Wave / Shutterstock, Thien Gretchen, Lemsipmatt, Horia Varlan

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Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos, Greece