Types of Sweeteners

NOTE FOR DIABETICS: It is important for diabetics to work closely with their healthcare practitioners and understand limitations with regard to sweeteners/sugars in their diet.

Diabetics can safely use stevia and usually small amounts of licorice root and fructooligosaccharides.

Some diabetics who are allowed to use small amounts of sugar can use small amounts of Sucanat.


Agave is a sweetener similar to honey but with different characteristics. This new sweetener is slightly less viscous than honey, lending to its ease of use. The light variety has a wonderfully pleasant flavor that will enhance anything it sweetens. The amber variety has a natural flavor best described as maple-like. The raw agave juice is regularly harvested from living plants by Indian peoples native to central Mexico and through enzymatic action the complex sugar found in agave juice is changed into a simple nectar sweetener.


Amasake is made from sweet brown rice, brown rice and koji (starter). The koji breaks down the polysaccharides in the rice to disaccharides giving it a very sweet taste. Avoid drinking too much of the amasake drinks made with almonds or nuts as they can be hard on the digestion.

Barley Malt

Made by steeping barley (or other grain) in water and drying it in a kiln, forcing germination until the saccharine principle (sweetness) has been evolved. It is used in brewing and in the distillation of whisky.

Brown Sugar

Usually white sugar mixed with molasses or sprayed with caramel coloring.

Corn Syrup

A natural sweetener/syrup prepared from corn. High fructose corn syrup is an inexpensive, highly processed, sticky sweetener that is devoid of nutrients and causes excessive thirst. It is an allergen for many people and causes gas and other digestive issues.

Date Sugar

Made from ground up dehydrated dates, is high in fiber, and a long list of vitamins and minerals, including iron. When cooking with date sugar, substitute one cup date sugar for each cup granulated sugar.


Dextrose is a syrupy or white crystalline, variety of sugar occurring in many ripe fruits. Dextrose is chiefly obtained by the action of heat and acids on starch, and also called starch sugar. It is also formed naturally from eating starchy foods.

Fruit Juice

Products sweetened with fruit juice give you the added benefit of vitamins and minerals.


A simple sugar, white and crystalline, found in honey and in many ripe fruits.

Fructooligosaccharides (fos) or Inulin

A sweetener derived from chicory by a process similar to that used in extracting sugar from sugar beets. It is white in color and water-soluble. It is not only a natural ingredient but also a prebiotic, which stimulates the growth of good intestinal bacteria, which support healthy colon conditions. FOS is very useful product for Candida overgrowth patients as it supports the growth of beneficial bacteria. It is a little expensive to use as a sweetener or in large amounts.


Glucose is a variety of sugar occurring abundantly in nature; in ripe grapes, in honey, and produced in great quantities from starch, etc., by the action of heat and acids. It’s only about half as sweet as cane sugar and is also called dextrose, grape sugar, diabetic sugar, and starch sugar.


A sweet yellow liquid produced by bees. Its taste and color vary according to the difference in flowers that the bees feed on. Honey should never be given to infants or very young children.

Licorice Root

One of the most commonly used herbs in the world. However, most herbalists agree that it is wise to avoid excessive and/or long-term use of licorice root. Long-term use can cause water retention and hypertension in some people. Licorice root is safe for diabetics, but do not use it as a primary sweetener. Stevia is a better choice for diabetics. Licorice root is best used in small amounts to give herbal teas a sweet taste.


Thick, dark syrup produced by boiling down juice from sugar cane during sugar refining.

Blackstrap Molasses

Molasses remaining after the maximum quantity of sugar has been extracted from the cane.

Rice Syrup

A natural sweetener/syrup prepared from rice-typically about half as sweet as sugar. Rice syrup is a sugar in the same group as sucrose and lactose and is therefore NOT considered safe for diabetics.


A natural sweetener sourced from a South American plant called Stevia rebaudiana. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar so it is used in extremely small amounts. It is for use by diabetics. The taste of stevia can vary considerably from one vendor’s product to another due to different growing conditions, processing, etc.

(Customers may be advised to try products from several vendors until they find one they like best.)

Sucanat/Cane Sugar

Sucanat, also called cane sugar, is produced using the whole sugar cane with the water removed; the sugar stream is never separated from the molasses as in the processing of refined sugar. The resulting product is unrefined, cane crystals. Sucanat is still sugar as far as diabetics are concerned, but it contains a small amount vitamins and minerals, which helps reduce some of the negative effects found in long-term use of white sugar.

Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado is a “partially refined raw sugar” from which some of the surface molasses film has been removed by steam or water. It is a light golden to brown color with large crystals and a mild, cane flavor. The crystals are dry and free flowing. It is the same as washed raw sugar.

White Sugar (Sucrose)

A sweet white crystalline substance, sandy or granular consistency, obtained by crystallizing the evaporated juice of certain plants, as the sugar cane, sorghum, beet root, sugar maple, etc. It is used for seasoning and preserving many kinds of food and drink. Ordinary sugar is essentially sucrose

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