You may know the difference between a diet soda and its sugary cousin, but your body may not be so quick to judge. When you trick your body with an artificial sweetener, you may be disrupting Mother Nature’s way of counting calories, which according to new study findings could lead to overeating (International Journal of Obesity, 2004, vol. 28, no. 7). If you want to eschew artificials, try natural sweeteners that are better for you.

5 Natural Sugars To Try

Sugar

Description

Uses

Benefits

Nutritional Info.

Calories

Protein

Carbs.

Total Fat

Agave nectar

The juice extracted from the agave plant (the same plant used to make tequila).

Excellent substitute for sugar in recipes and in hot or cold tea.

Less processed than sugar, readily available.

1 tablespoon

60

0

16g

0g

Brown rice syrup

Derived from sprouted brown rice, has a honeylike consistency and a mild flavor.

Works well as a sweetener for your favorite beverage. Can be used in baking by substituting 3/4 cup agave for 1 cup white sugar and reducing liquid content by 1/4 cup.

Has a low glycemic index, but is made primarily of fructose and may have a negative effect on insulin metabolism.

1 tablespoon

43

0g

11g

0g

Date sugar

Ground-up, dehydrated dates.

Substitute equally for brown or white sugar in most recipes. Doesn’t dissolve well in drinks.

Rich in fiber, and it metabolizes more slowly than sugar.

1 tablespoon

36

0g

9g

0g

Fruit juice concentrates

Cooked-down fruits.

Great for flavoring and sweetening drinks.

Extra sweet. Made of fructose; may negatively effect insulin metabolism.

1 tablespoon

30

0g

8g

0g

Honey

Plant nectar processed by the honeybee

Excellent in recipes and in tea. Use 1/2 cup for 1 cup white sugar; reduce liquid in recipe by 1/2 cup.

Less processed than white sugar; readily available.

64 tablespoon

30

0g

17g

0g