10 Alternatives to Refined Sugar

Sweeten your food the natural way!

Sometimes life just requires a little something sweet. So with that in mind, here are 10 all natural, unrefined sweeteners you can feel better about adding to your favorite desserts. Refined sugar has no nutritional value. Most all processed foods have loads of added refined sugar. On average, studies have shown that the average American eats 3 pounds of refined sugar per week, via processed foods.

At Skinny Ms., we use only unrefined sweeteners. You will find that most of our baked goods contain either honey, sucanat or coconut palm sugar. If you live in a location where these sweeteners are not readily available,  you can always shop here.

Maple syrup
Brown Rice Syrup

Date Butter or Date sugar
Coconut Palm Sugar 
(our favorite because of its low glycemic index)
Turbinado Sugar
Pureed bananas (great in baking!)
Sorghum Syrup
Unsulphured Molasses

If you’re looking for a dessert, be sure to stop by our dessert category!

Why choose natural sugars when the body processes sugar as sugar no matter what type it is? Simply put, with natural sugars you are not only avoiding chemical processes but also getting at least some amount of nutrition with each bite. Can’t say that for the white sugar which has no nutritional value!


This post may include affiliate links.


The SkinnyMs. team believes that all people, regardless of age, size, and fitness level, have the power to transform their lives — they just need the resources to do so. The SkinnyMs. method promotes healthy living through a combination of clean eating and regular exercise. We offer everything you need to be successful.

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  1. Truvia is suppose to be natural, will that work for natural sugar. I use local grown, processed, organic honey in my tea and hot cereal. Its great for my allergies.

    1. Mary – No, Truvia is not natural. It's manufactured by the Coca-Cola company. Stevia is what you are looking for.

      1. I just read this article and noticed there was no evidence that agave was any worse than any other sweetner. It states that it is processed, but much like maple syrup. The reason people tout it as healthier is that it may have a lower glycemic index and is sweeter than sugar, so you use less. Webmd states, at the end, that we need to be careful of any sweetner we use.
        ps. high fructose corn syrup is bad for you in many ways. The atoms are manipulated to create a sweet taste. Your body does not recognize what it is. Any processed food is hard on your cells. Your body just doesn't recognize them as food.

    1. The main thing to remember is that refined sugar does not have nutritional value. These are natural sweeteners that retain some nutritional value and the ones used most often by Skinny Ms.:
      honey; molasses; sucanat; sorghum; 100% maple syrup.

  2. I've read Stevia is pretty good as well.  Out of all of these, which do you feel is the best for someone?  Thank you. Oh, I've also seen concerns on Rice Syrup having arsenic in it.

    1. Vicki, Stevia is big in the fitness world…just be sure to read the label and make sure there is no added sugars. We use these natural sweeteners that retains some nutritional value: honey; molasses; sucanat; sorghum; 100% Maple Syrup. Thanks!

    2. I have a Stevia plant growing in a pot on my front porch. I don't think it gets more natural than snipping leaves, drying them out and blending them in my smoothies.

  3. We use Xylitol and liquid Stevia.  Sometimes we use honey, pure maple syrup or raw agave nectar, but the latter has had enough questions/debate, I try to avoid it too.

    1. If you choose to eat refined sugar, it's better than the alternative. I, personally only use honey, molasses, sorghum, maple syrup or sucanat. Thanks for the question.

  4. What about sugar in the raw? That's what I've been using forever instead of granulated sugar…Thanks

  5. This is good – I'm putting together a 4 Hour Body Recipes/Paleo slow cooker cookbook and a few of my recipes require sugar and such – I've substituted Maple Syrup for most of the sugar and halved the amounts recommended.

    1. Heather, Thanks for the suggestions. I use only raw honey when using honey, some people aren't able to find it in their small towns.

  6. Pureed bananas instead of sugar? Can someone please tell me when you would use this/how much? I've never heard of this…very interested!

  7. Ashley, I use pureed banans in place of sugar in things like, oatmeal and pancakes. It's important to make sure the bananas are fairly ripe, this way they are much sweeter.

  8. Why isn't maple syrup on the list? Also I think bananas shouldn't be near the bottom, they are a whole food and certainly healthier than cane sugar. They're the only non refined sugar on the list.

    1. Veronica, The list isn't complete but you make an excellent point. I'll add maple syrup. The sweeteners aren't in any particular order. Thanks, we appreciate your feedback! 🙂

  9. Hi! Only recently I decided to use more natural sugars in my diet. More or less I've only known about maple syrup and honey so this article is a great find for me, now I can play around with other options. Thank you for your post!

  10. I haven't used regular white sugar in a while, although I'm not sure which to use in what for substituting. I bought Stevia and Agave nectar some time ago. And then I heard Agave nectar isn't good for you, either. I don't like honey or maple syrup taste. Is there one of the choices in your list that can be used for everything (baking, adding to tea, cereal, etc for a little sweetness) and would the measurement be the same as for sugar, say in baking? Thank you.

    1. Cindy, Coconut Palm Sugar is really low on the glycemic index so it won't raise blood sugar too much. Stevia is a safe choice if you're diabetic.

  11. What alternatives taste the most like refined white sugar and brown sugar and can handle the higher temperatures? I have a recipe that calls for both.

    1. Jane, I would definitely use coconut sugar in place of refined sugar, 1:1 ratio. 🙂 I use it in baking all the time. Keep in mind you’ll get a little darker color than with white sugar, but a healthier version.

    1. We don’t use or promote any artificial sweeteners, even Splenda. I prefer sweetening with bananas and dates, both real food. 🙂

    1. Hi, Marlene. Molasses will often have a “best by” date, but it can last for a long period of time, especially when properly stored. Store it in a cold, dark and dry location and it will keep longer. Hope that helps!

  12. I just found this site as I was recently diagnosed with diabetes. I am trying to get it under control with limited drugs but am finding my food choices or lack thereof very frustrating. Your site is quite helpful in making the best choices. Thank you.

    1. Hi Negra! Thanks for your comment and suggestion. Yes, of course you can use banana or other fresh fruit in your smoothies to add flavor and sweetness. If you’re using a flavored protein powder, keep in mind they usually have some sort of sweetener in them and may make your smoothies sweet enough. Also, keep in mind the addition of calories and carbohydrates when adding fruit. Let us know if you have additional questions!

  13. I have just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. What be the best sweetener for me to use?

    1. Cathleen, Please check with your doctor regarding the best sweetener for you. Best wishes to you!

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