Natural Sweeteners vs Refined Sugars

Looking at the natural sweetener alternatives over the refined sugars that we see on the shelves of so many shopping malls. There are a number of fairly new natural sweeteners on the block that are dubbed calorie-free and carbohydrate-free. These plant derivatives and sugar alcohols taste as good as sugar, but due to the way they have been absorbed, they result in a much slower and smaller rise in blood sugar and insulin.

Do be careful though when choosing foods containing these substitutes – the actual sweeteners may be better for you, but they are often added to food high in saturated fats, which defeats the benefits of using these sweeteners.

Below we give you the low-down of three calorie-friendly natural alternatives. (By comparison, sugar has 4 calories per gram.)


Calorie count: It has almost no calories – often labeled as having 0.2 calories per gram.
Taste: 70% as sweet as sugar.
Other benefits: Erythritol doesn’t spike blood sugar or insulin levels and has no effect on biomarkers like cholesterol or triglycerides. Unlike Xylitol, the laxative effects are not reported to be as common. That’s because 90% of Erythritol is absorbed before it enters the large intestine.


Calorie count:  Absolutely none!
Taste: It is 250 to 300 times sweeter than sugar – satisfying even the sweetest tooth.
Other benefits: The steviol glycosides are the sweetest portion of the plant, and these cannot be absorbed in the human body, so they’re completely excreted in the urine with no accumulation.


Calorie count:  Contains between 1.9 and 2.4 calories per gram – which is 40% less than sugar.
Taste: 1:1 with sugar.
Other benefits: Xylitol appears to have some benefits for dental health, reducing the risk of cavities and dental decay. It may also improve bone density, helping to prevent osteoporosis. It doesn’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels.

Please Note: Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs. Don’t let your furry friends get hold of your sugar-free treats!

There are a couple of other natural sweeteners available, which may not boast a lower calorie count, but are still so much better for you than ordinary refined sugar, see what you can find here.

  • Michelle
    Posted at 14:26h, 22 January Reply

    I would like to learn how to use natural sweeteners without their aftertaste.
    Maybe I’ve been using them incorrectly but I find them all unpalatable.
    I tried the powder green stevia. No chance !!
    Please give recommendations and guidance for baking and cooking

    • Chevaun Roux
      Posted at 11:07h, 07 February Reply

      We’ve found that the sweetener with the least flavour/aftertaste is Xylitol – this is of course personal preference though. Our recommendation with cooking and baking would be to go as natural as possible (honey often works as a brilliant sweetener). Otherwise, you can find a sweetener with a delicious before and after taste! One of our faves: coconut sugar (

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