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Healthy sugar substitute - 5 natural alternatives for industrial sugar

Natural alternative for sugar

Are there healthy and natural alternatives for sugar? Refined sugar can have many negative effects on the body, making us listless, tired and ill in the long term. On the other hand, however, sugar (glucose) is also vital, especially since it serves as fuel for our brain, respiration and other processes in the organism.  

In fact, today there are numerous ways to replace refined granulated sugar with healthier alternatives. However, caution is advised with some sugar alternatives, as certain synthetic sweeteners from the chemistry lab, for example, are by no means healthier - quite the opposite. Healthy sugars, on the other hand, are more likely to be of plant origin, which is why they can usually bring additional benefits.

In this post I would like to give you 5 healthy sugar alternatives as well as some less recommendable types of sugar. Let's go!

  1. Alternatives
  2. Sugar substitute for diabetics
  3. Unhealthy sugar substitute
  4. Closing words

5 Alternatives - How to replace sugar naturally?

Let's start with the answer to the initial question about natural, healthy sugar substitutes. Here are the promised five alternatives for the classic industrial sugar.

1. birch sugar (xylitol) as a healthy sugar substitute

Birch sugar as a natural alternative for industrial sugar
Birch sugar as a natural alternative for industrial sugar / ©, Kräuterladen

Birch sugar is one of the particularly popular, healthy types of sugar. The natural sugar alternative is found in many plants, but in the past it was mainly obtained from the bark of birch trees.

Birch sugar now has many names. For example, the healthy sugar is also known under the following terms:

  • Xylitol
  • Xylitol
  • Xucker

Even though the name birch sugar suggests otherwise, it is now very often made from the remains of corn cobs. Nevertheless, some retailers still offer xylitol, which still comes from birch wood. In the end, however, the origin does not make much difference - at least in terms of health aspects - because it is basically a herbal raw material which is formed in the course of energy metabolism even in the human body.

However, when buying should choose only certified organic products, especially since corn is known not infrequently genetically modified.

Here you can buy birch sugar packaged plastic-free online.*

Advantages & Disadvantages

Birch sugar has several advantages over conventional household sugar. Thus, it comes through the healthy sugar substitute to no noticeable increase in insulin and blood glucose levels. In addition, the natural sugar alternative is also anti-inflammatory properties awarded.₁

Accordingly, the positive influence on dental health is particularly noteworthy. Indeed, various scientific studies show that the healthy sugar Counteract tooth decay and gum problems which - in contrast to refined sugar - supports oral hygiene.₂ Furthermore, birch sugar has around 40 percent Less calories than classic table sugar, with almost identical sweetening power and a very similar taste. In terms of quantity, xylitol can therefore be used just like sugar. 

A disadvantage, on the other hand, is that too high quantities have a laxative effect can. However, it is assumed that 0.5 grams per kilogram of body weight are well tolerated. Incidentally, it is also known that our body can slowly get used to larger amounts of xylitol.

2. D-galactose as a natural alternative for sugar

D-galactose is a sugar substitute that also occurs as a vital component in our body. The simple or mucilage sugar is found in most living creatures and also in breast milk - which is why it is known as a "sugar substitute". essential building block of life applies.

Advantages & Disadvantages

For example, the healthy sugar substitute is an essential building material of all body cell walls and also performs several other important functions in the organism.

In addition, galactose is processed independently of the blood sugar hormone insulin, which can benefit diabetics and athletes in particular. Studies have shown that the sugar alternative enters the cells without insulin.₃,₄ For this reason, D-galactose is repeatedly recommended by diabetologists, especially since considerable therapeutic successes were already achieved with the mucilage sugar in the 1930s. It is well known that moderate insulin levels also have a beneficial effect on weight control.

Further research in recent decades also suggests the following, health effects close:

  • Increased brain power 
  • Better concentration 
  • Higher physical performance 

The Effects of galactose are therefore not only used as a healthy sugar substitute, but also often by people with nervous disorders and memory impairment.

Galactose is found in dairy products as well as in numerous plant-based foods. The healthy sugar alternative is therefore available in vegetarian as well as purely vegetable, vegan form. Galactose tastes somewhat more subtle than ordinary table sugar. The sweetening power of mucilage sugar is about 63 percent. However, it is significantly more expensive than other common sugar alternatives.

Here you can buy D-galactose in powder form.*

3. stevia is a healthy sugar substitute

Stevia is certainly one of the best known natural sugar alternatives. The Stevia plant extract falls into the category of sweeteners - which consequently means that even tiny amounts achieve the same sweetening power as household sugar. Despite its natural, plant-based origin, the healthy sugar substitute is 300 times sweeter than sugar.

Advantages & Disadvantages

Also stevia does not affect the blood sugar level, which is easy on the pancreas because the organ does not have to secrete insulin.₅ In addition, the sweetener contains Almost no calories. Stevia is therefore also a good choice if we want to lose weight naturally. The small plant, which is also called honey herb, is also gentle on our teeth

One disadvantage of stevia is the Lack of volume. Stevia is a very good sugar alternative when we want to sweeten drinks or do without sugar completely. However, when it comes to cakes, pies, pastries or chocolate, the healthy sugar substitute cannot do without fillers or other sugar substitutes.

In addition, stevia tastes not quite neutral but slightly bitter, which is less appealing to some people. So just try the natural substitute for industrial sugar once.

Here you can directly buy stevia online.*

4. maple syrup as a versatile substitute for industrial sugar.

Healthy sugar substitute - maple syrup

Maple syrup is a liquid sugar alternative that is especially good when combined with the following foods:

  • Cake
  • Jam
  • Tea
  • Pastries
  • Shakes

The natural sweetener is taken from the Canadian maple trees. Various studies make it evident that the natural sugar substitute contains numerous valuable ingredients that benefit our health.₆

Advantages & Disadvantages

Navindra Seeram - a professor at the University of Rhode Island - has been researching liquid tree sap for years. He discovered in the meantime over 50 beneficial substances in maple syrupwhich mainly antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are attributed to them. For example, polyphenols, which are now also found in many dietary supplements as well as in cosmetics.₇

Most of the substances contained in maple syrup have been shown in corresponding laboratory tests to be helpful in bacterial infections, diabetes as well as cancer. However, the studies were not conducted with maple syrup but with a maple syrup extract. Professor Seeram advises buying maple syrup that is as dark as possible, especially since the Polyphenol content the darker the tree sap, the higher it is.

When buying the healthy sugar alternative is also pay attention to purity and composition. Since the term "maple syrup" is not protected, it is not uncommon to find products that have been mixed with sugar syrup. Maple syrup influences the blood sugar level - compared to other healthy types of sugar - very well, but not quite as clearly as ordinary household sugar.

Tip: If you are looking for a vegan honey are, then maple syrup is a really tasty alternative, by the way!

5. yacon as a natural sugar alternative

Yacon is a plant that has been used for centuries in South America. Interestingly, the tuber was already revered by the legendary Incas. The healing powers of the yacon root have thus actually been known for a long time. However, yacon has now also made a name for itself in the western world.

Thus, the healthy sugar substitute is considered among gourmets as a kind of Insider tip, which is why yacon is used mainly by top chefs and particularly nutrition-conscious people. Visually, the root resembles a sweet potato. 

Advantages & Disadvantages

Of particular health relevance are the following substances contained in yacon sweet-tasting, prebiotic dietary fiber (fructooligosaccharides). Prebiotic substances are known to promote Preservation and development of the intestinal flora so important for us with its numerous bacterial strains.₈

Yacon syrup and yacon powder are therefore also called solvent effects for chronic constipation is said. Fructooligosaccharides also belong to the indigestible dietary fibers, which is why they do not enter the blood like sugar and therefore do not affect body weight or blood glucose levels.₉

In South America, the natural sugar alternative is also traditionally used for the following health problems:

  • Kidney diseases
  • Diabetes 
  • Digestive complaints

Yacon is an excellent natural mineral supplier. For example, the healthy sugar contains a lot of calcium, iron and potassium. Incidentally, through yacon we also take significantly fewer calories to us. The sweetness of the yacon root is rather gentle, which is why the natural sugar alternative can be combined with almost all recipes and dishes is. However, the healthy sugar substitute is particularly popular in mueslis, dressings, dips and desserts. 

What is the best sugar substitute for diabetics?

The best natural sugar alternatives for diabetics are usually characterized by a low glycemic index, or a as little influence as possible on the blood glucose level off.

Ordinary household sugar causes insulin levels to rise sharply, which is why healthy alternatives are needed. People with diabetes are therefore best to rely on sugars such as:

  • Stevia
  • Yacon
  • Xylitol
  • Galactose

In general, the following applies logically here: The lower the impact on blood sugar levels, the better. 

Aspartame - The unhealthy sugar substitute

Synthetic sweeteners like Aspartame (E951) should be avoided because they have numerous harmful side effects. In fact, the sweetener is partly produced with the help of genetically engineered bacteria. Monsanto, a company that has been criticized for many years, was in charge of this for many years. 

According to various sources, the metabolism of aspartame produces dangerous neurotoxins, which is associated with Memory loss, Depression, Blindness as well as being associated with other dangerous effects. Although aspartame actually has a questionable and long approval history, the side effects are often lightly dismissed by manufacturers.

In fact, however, the approval of aspartame was denied for many years, especially since the sweetener triggered worrying health problems in studies. Aspartame has therefore led to considerable discussions in the past as well as today.

When Searle & Company finally received a patent on aspartame in 1981 (NutraSweet), the company was taken over by Monsanto in 1985. In the meantime, however, aspartame is also marketed by several other companies, especially since the patent expired in 1992. 

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a list of aspartame's side effects a few years ago, which included a whopping 92 documented symptoms ₁₀ However, the official FDA list can no longer be found online. 

Natural sugar substitutes - switch to healthy alternatives for industrial sugar

As you've seen in this post, ordinary table sugar can be absolutely easily replaced with far healthier alternatives these days.

Natural sugar alternatives can also be useful to us, especially in weight control. In addition, however, diabetics in particular also benefit from a healthy sugar substitute that has little or no effect on blood sugar levels.

I hope I could help you with this post about natural sugar alternatives. Do you have any questions or suggestions? Then just write me a comment.

Stay healthy,

Living plastic-free - Less plastic waste in the environment

PS: I don't always make sure not to consume industrial sugar. If you want to know how my body reacted to it when I was Have eaten absolutely no refined sugar for 30 days, just click through to the linked post.

₁ S. Müller (2018): Xylitol: natural sugar substitute for caries prevention, available at [06.11.2020].

₂ K. Lang: Xylit, metabolism and clinical use; Xylitol, its metabolism and clinical use, available at [06.11.2020].

₃ Mosetter, K. and Ruetter, W. (2007): Insulin and insulin resistance in the brain. Switzerland. Zschr. GanzheitsMedizin 19(3):138-141.

₄ H. Kosterlitz; H. W. Wedler (1933): Studies on the utilization of galactose in physiological and pathological states, available at [06.11.2020].

₅ T. Chen, S. Chen, P. Chan, et al: Mechanism of the Hypoglycemic Effect of Stevioside, a Glycoside of Stevia rebaudiana (February 2005), available at [06.11.2020].

₆ D. Lavallee: URI pharmacy researcher finds beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup (as of Mar. 22, 2010), available at [06.11.2020].

₇ S. Quideau, D. Deffieux, C. Douat-Casassus et al: Plant polyphenols-chemical properties, biological activity, and synthesis, available at [06.11.2020].

₈ The importance of pro- and prebiotics in nutrition, S. Unger - Journal of Nutritional Medicine, 1999 -

₉ S. Genta, W. Cabrera, N. Habib et al: Yacon syrup - Beneficial effects on obesity and insulin resistance in humans (Accessed February 2009), available at [06.11.2020].

₁₀ J. Handel: Aspartame - Sweetener with side effects (as of 26.06.2020), available at [06.11.2020].

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* Links with asterisks are so-called affiliate links. If you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, because I get a small share of the sales revenue - and of course the product price does not change. Thank you for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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