A Guide To Sugar Vs Natural Sweeteners: Which Is Best?

October 26, 2012

Maple syrup, honey, golden syrup, agave nectar…there are so many natural sweeteners available these days as an alternative to sugar, but which is best for your health and your cooking needs?

Caster Sugar

Caster sugar is a processed product made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose. As a result it has few minerals and antioxidants, but is one of the best choices for baking biscuits and cakes.

1 cup = 720 calories.


Honey is packed with antioxidants, especially nutty-flavoured buckwheat honey. A wonderful choice for sweet and savoury cooking.

1 cup = 960 calories.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is about 50/50 glucose and fructose, and contains small amounts of polyphenols (antioxidants that help quell inflammation). Who doesn’t love pancakes or waffles smothered in maple syrup? Try it in salad dressings too.

1 cup = 800 calories.

Agave Nectar

Similar in taste to honey, agave (pronounced ah-GAH-vay) is made from the same plant from which tequila is made. Agave contains up to 90% fructose, and is recommended for its very low glycemic index. We like it in iced drinks.

1 cup = 960 calories.

Golden Syrup

Made from boiled-down sugarcane, cane syrup is about 50/50 glucose and fructose. The smooth, caramel taste makes it a good vegan substitute for honey.

1 cup = 960 calories.

Coconut Sugar

Made from coconut nectar, it’s low on the glycemic index. It has a slight nutty flavour, so try substituting 1 cup of sugar for 1 cup of coconut sugar in your next sweet or savoury recipe.

1 cup = 720 calories.

Which sweetener do you prefer day-to-day?

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