5 Healthy Sugar Substitutes

More nutrients, less calories.

Cutting back on sugars can be difficult. This is because sugar activates pleasure centers in our brain that can easily trigger addiction. The more sugar we eat, the more we crave it. It’s possible to cut back on sugar consumption, and even to completely eliminate added sugars from our diet. There are plenty of healthy sugar substitutes to appease a sweet tooth.

One important distinction to make is between added sugar and natural sugars. Ice cream, candy, and sodas are full of added sugars. Fruit, on the other hand, contains natural sugars. Natural sugars are considered healthier because fruit delivers fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are essential to your health. Processed sugar has been stripped of nutrients. Added sugars act as slow poisons to our bodies. They have been linked to impaired mental function, low energy levels, obesity, cancer, and diabetes.

If you’re trying to cut back on added sugars, making a switch to a healthier, naturally sweet diet, check out these 5 healthy sugar substitutes to fight off dessert cravings.

1. Fruit

Fruit is nature’s candy. While naturally high in sugars, fruit also delivers vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The skin of fruit is often high in fiber, which slows digestions and helps prevent sugar spikes. Certain fruit such as watermelon and oranges are also high in water content, helping you stay hydrated. Dates are truly nature’s candy! It’s easy to make desserts without sugar by subbing with dates. Here’s a delicious summer recipe for Skinny Mini Strawberry Cheesecake, made without sugar.

When the warmer season rolls around and bears a bunch of fruity seasonal produce, take advantage by whipping up this colorfully sweet Fruit Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing!

2. Maple Syrup

While maple syrup is high in calories and should be used in moderation, it’s a good alternative to regular white sugar. Maple syrup contains less fructose than processed sugars, and has the added benefit of powerful antioxidants.

Amp up your morning oatmeal with this savory Maple Banana Quinoa recipe! Rise and shine to something creamy and filling, complete with a hint of sweetness your taste buds will thank you for!

3. Raw Honey

Similar to maple syrup, honey should be used in moderation because it can cause blood sugar spikes and contains a high amount of calories. The vitamins and minerals in honey make it a perfect addition to your diet in small amounts. Try adding a teaspoon to your smoothies or yogurt as a way to naturally sweeten while adding nutrients to your food.

And speaking of recipes that feature the delicious sweetener, this Raw Chocolate Honey Coconut Butter will blow your mind! Infused with honey sweet, chocolaty flavors, this butter tastes amazing on toast, fruit, or by itself!

4. Stevia

Stevia is made from the leaf of a plant. Stevia is a natural zero-calorie sweetener that can be bought in leaf form or as a processed powder. It’s a good way to sweeten coffee, oatmeal, smoothies, or desserts.

Treat yourself to some clean-eating Creme Brulee when your taste buds are hankering for something sweet. The classic recipe gets a healthified makeover in this genius, melt-in-your-mouth dish that calls for stevia and other guilt-free sweeteners like maple syrup.

5. Monk Fruit Extract

Derived from a fruit and used for centuries in China, monk fruit extract is another natural zero-calorie sweetener. Nowadays, you can find it in most health food stores.

Have you sworn off artificial sweeteners and refined sugars but can’t seem to give up sweet treats every now and then? Don’t worry! There are plenty of healthy, clean-eating recipes out there that allow you to indulge while feeding your body  nutrients you can feel good about. If you’re a big fan of dessert, keep archives like this 10 Desserts Made with Healthy, Natural Sweeteners on hand.

What healthy sugar substitutes do you use? Let us know! Leave a comment in the section below.

This post may include affiliate links.

Create a FREE account for quick & easy access


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.

More by Skinny