Which sugar alternative should I use? | Nutrition

Which sugar alternative should I use? | Nutrition



There are so many sugar alternatives on the market claiming they are 'more natural' and are therefore better than sugar. Additionally on the other hand, we have many different artificial sweeteners that contain no sugar. The question is, are they healthier?

I created the table below using data from SELF Nutrition Data to show the sugar levels per 100g of various 'healthy' alternatives to sugar.


Carbohydrate content per 100g

Of which is sugar

Of which is fibre

Other Constituents

Other Names

White table sugar






High Fructose Corn Syrup






Raw Sugar (brown sugar)




Also contains calcium, magnesium and sodium along with other minerals in trace amounts






Contains 17.1g of water & 52mg of potassium per 100g


Agave Syrup





1.5 times sweeter than sugar, so you use 1.5 times LESS to create equal sweetness

Maple Syrup




Also contains 32.1g water per 100g serve along with calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc & sodium






Per 100g, contains 21.9g water. Is a good source of vitamin B6, along with various minerals such as magnesium, potassium and manganese

Malt Syrup




Per 100g there is 21.9g water, malt contains various levels of B vitamins along with good levels of magnesium, phosphorous and selenium


As you can see, there isn’t that big a difference. They all contain a lot of sugar. Now bear in mind 1 teaspoon is about 5 grams, so you use a lot less. Percentage-wise however, they all contain 70-100% sugar.

An interesting point to note is that fruits all contain sugar, too. Just because they come from a 'natural source' does not mean their sugar is broken down any differently.

Each of these forms of sugar gets broken down in the body into glucose which is released into the blood stream. Glucose released into our blood stream causes our blood sugar levels to increase. Sugar is broken down very quickly when there is little to no fibre to slow the digestive process down. When there’s no fibre, blood sugar levels ‘spikes’ up, subsequently followed by 'lows', both of which can cause irritability, anger and brain fog.

Now as for artificial sweeteners, many of these range from being 250-600 times sweeter than sugar. As such, you use 250-600% less to get an equal sweetness. Being that the serving size is so little, you consume little to no calories.

However, some products use sugar alcohols to substitute sugar. These break down into glucose a lot slower than normal sugar and require little to no insulin to digest them. Unfortunately, they can contribute sugar to the body as glucose does (this is important in ketosis diets). Sugar alcohols tend to leave many people bloated and can cause gas due to the fermentation in the gut.

So which should you use?

Blood sugar

Everything should be consumed in moderation. Don’t get sucked into the hype that agave syrup is better for you than straight sugar, because in your body, it gets broken down much the same way. If you are going to use a sugar or sugar substitute, use it minimally.

As for artificial sweeteners, there’s a lot of conflict around one of these, in particular, aspartame. It is the one I personally try to limit due to studies showing increases in irritability, mood swings, and depression when consumed regularly.

As for the rest, use in moderation – bearing in mind, the amount you get in a product or item will be extremely minimal anyway.


To learn more about diet and nutrition, visit the Aussie Supps Nutrition Hub. I'll be your in-house nutritionist to take care of your health and diet needs. For bookings and more info, email us at info@aussiesuppsnutritionhub.com, or check out our Contact Us page, or chat with us on Facebook.
Stay healthy!
By Sian Skinner-Smith 
Aussie Supps Nutrition Hub Head Nutritionist

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