Sugar Substitutes

Sweeteners other than ordinary table sugar are often described as Sugar Substitutes. 

There are over 50 unique and different sweeteners, all with different properties, and a full listing is given here. However, many of these are not commonly used as Sugar Substitutes, and some are just sugar in another form.

Sugar is an excellent sweetener with outstanding taste and texture. However, it can contribute to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. Substitutes are desirable in order to avoid these adverse effects. I have broken down the listing below into two different groups: Low Glycemic and High Glycemic Substitutes. 

Ordinary Sugar - For comparison [GI = 65] [Cal = 16


List of Low GI Sugar Substitutes

You won't find honey or Maple Syrup on this list - they are both high GI. All sweeteners below are suitable for diabetics, though some, like Agave Syrup contain Fructose. (Be warned!!) After each sweetener I have included the Glycemic Index in brackets, and the calories required to equal the sweetness of one teaspoon or one lump of sugar.


Acesulfame K - Artificial Sweetener [GI = 0] [Cal = 0]

Advantame - Artificial Sweetener [GI = 0] [Cal = 0]

Agave Syrup - Modified Sugar [GI = 15] [Cal = 10]

Aspartame - Artificial Sweetener [GI = 0] [Cal = 0]

Aspartame-Acesulfame Salt - Artificial Sweetener [GI = 0] [Cal = 0]

Cyclamate - Artificial Sweetener [GI = 0] [Cal = 0]

Erythritol - Sugar Alcohol [GI = 1] [Cal = 1]

Glycerol (Glycerin) - Sugar Alcohol [GI = 3] [Cal = 40]

Inulin - Sugar Fiber [GI = 0] [Cal = 55]

Isomalt - Sugar Alcohol [GI = 2] [Cal = 17]

Lactitol - Sugar Alcohol [GI = 3] [Cal = 20]

Luo Han Guo (Monk Fruit) - Natural Sweetener [GI = 0] [Cal = 0]

Maltitol - Sugar Alcohol [GI = 35] [Cal = 11]

Mannitol - Sugar Alcohol [GI = 2] [Cal = 13]

Neotame - Artificial Sweetener [GI = 0] [Cal = 0]

Oligofructose - Sugar Fiber [GI = 0] [Cal = 15]

Saccharin, - Artificial Sweetener [GI = 0] [Cal = 0]

Sorbitol - Sugar Alcohol [GI = 4] [Cal = 19]

Stevia - Natural Sweetener [GI = 0] [Cal = 0]

Sucralose - Artificial Sweetener [GI = 0] [Cal = 0]

Tagatose - Modified Sugar [GI = 0] [Cal = 7]

Xylitol - Sugar Alcohol [GI = 12] [Cal = 10]

Yacon Syrup - Natural Sweetener [GI = 1] [Cal = 10]



There are 23 unique Sugar Substitutes in the above list. All are low glycemic, some are zero. Some, however, (like Inulin) are not very sweet so a larger serving is required, hence high calories. By and large they do not have the drawbacks of ordinary sugar - they are suitable for diabetics, and do not cause tooth decay.

But they have other drawbacks. Some do not taste anything like sugar, and can take some getting used to. Others (sugar alcohols) can cause bloating or cramps. And there are concerns regarding the safety of some of the artificial ones. More detailed information can be got by clicking the link for each sweetener.

On the positive side some have properties superior to sugar. For example Maltitol actually improves the taste of chocolate over sugar. And Glycerol improves the texture and shelf life or certain foods.

Stevia is a natural zero calorie sweetener and has been proven to be safe. It also appears to help regulate blood sugar levels. Yakon syrup is probably one of the best sugar substitutes. It is natural, low calorie, zero glycemic and a raw food (if prepared under certain conditions).

Monk Fruit (Luo Han Guo) is also an excellent, natural, zero calorie sweetener.


List of High GI Sugar Substitutes

Clicking on the name for each sweetener below opens a new page with more detailed information. All sweeteners below contain sugar in one form or another.


Barley Malt Syrup - Modified Sugar [GI = 42] [Cal = 25]

Blackstrap Molasses - Sugar Extract [GI = 55] [Cal = 16]

Brown Rice Syrup - Modified Sugar [GI = 25] [Cal = 25]

Cane Juice - Sugar Extract [GI = 55] [Cal = 16]

Coconut Palm Sugar - Sugar Extract [GI = 35] [Cal = 16]

Dextrose - Sugar [GI = 100] [Cal = 21]

Galactose - Sugar [GI = 23] [Cal = 53]

Glucose - Sugar [GI = 100] [Cal = 21]

Golden Syrup - Modified sugar [GI = 60] [Cal = 15]

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) - Modified sugar [GI = 58] [Cal = 13]

Honey - Natural Sugar [GI = 50] [Cal = 14]

Inverted Sugar - Modified sugar [GI = 60] [Cal = 14]

Lactose - Sugar [GI = 45] [Cal = 107]

Maltodextrin - Sugar [GI = 90] [Cal = 160]

Maltose - Sugar [GI = 105] [Cal = 53]

Maple Syrup - Sugar Extract [GI = 54] [Cal = 16]

Molasses - Sugar Extract [GI = 60] [Cal = 16]

Refiners Syrup - Modified Sugar [GI = 60] [Cal = 15]

Sorghum Syrup - Sugar Extract [GI = 50] [Cal = 15]

Trehalose - Sugar [GI = 70] [Cal = 36]

The sugar substitutes in the above list contribute to all the common ailments of sugar if taken to excess: Diabetes, tooth decay and obesity. However they are still popular for many reasons:

1. They are often not as refined as ordinary sugar and less chemicals have been used in their production.
2. They may contain valuable minerals and vitamins.
3. Some are produced to organic, or raw standards.
4. Some have medicinal properties.
5. Many have a somewhat lower glycemic index than sugar.

However they should be taken in moderation, and ideally used instead of, not in addition to, ordinary sugar.




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