Love it, Like it, Hate it: Natural Plant-Based Sweeteners

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A lot of things are debatable in the world of nutrition, but the idea that we should limit our added sugars is not one of them. And just because a sweetener is all-natural doesn’t mean it’s good for us.

In today’s Get the Skinny, we’re taking a look at which all-natural sweeteners are really best for those watching calories and added sugars, and which aren’t much different than ordinary table sugar.


  • American Heart Association guideline for added sugars is less than 25 grams (100 calories) daily for women; less than 37 grams (150 calories) for men.


  • Erythritol is a natural plant-derived sweetener that provides less than 0.2 calories per gram of carbohydrate, compared with 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate for sugar and most other types of carbs.




Ingredients: A blend of erythritol and oligosaccharides

Calories & carbs: 0 calories & 5 grams carb (all 5 grams is erythritol) per packet or teaspoon

How to substitute for sugar:

  • One packet Swerve = 1 teaspoon or 1 packet of sugar
  • Baking: Measures cup-for-cup like sugar; 1 cup Swerve (50 calories) = 1 cup sugar (760 calories)



Ingredients: A blend of erythritol and stevia.

Calories & carbs: 0 calories & 3 grams carb (all 3 grams is erythritol) per packet or ¾ teaspoon

How to substitute for sugar:  One packet Truvia = 2 teaspoons of sugar


STEVIALiquid or Granular

Ingredients: Insoluble soluble fiber and stevia (packets);  water and stevia (Sweet Drops); Sweet Drops available in 20 flavors that also include natural flavors, like Cinnamon, Chocolate, and Vanilla

Calories & carbs: 0 calories, 0 carbs per packet or Sweet Drops

How to substitute for sugar:  1 packet = 2 teaspoons sugar





Ingredient: 100% xylitol

Calories & carbs: 10 calories & 4 grams carbohydrate per teaspoon

How to substitute for sugar:  1 teaspoon = 1 teaspoon sugar

The downside:  Xylitol can cause mild laxative effect, and can be toxic to dogs.




  • Ingredients: Water, organic agave, xanthan gum, organic stevia, citric acid, monkfruit
  • Calories & carbs: 5 calories and 1 gram carb per teaspoon
  • 75% fewer carbs/calories than regular or “light” agave



For those watching calories and trying to keep weight in check, these aren’t any lower calorie than ordinary white sugar. Plus, they still count as ‘added’ sugars in our diet.

Compare to regular white granulated table sugar:  15 calories and 4 grams carbs per teaspoon

Organic Coconut Sugar/Coconut Palm Sugar:  20 calories and 5 grams carbs per teaspoon

Organic/Vegan Cane Sugar: 15 calories and 4 grams sugar per teaspoon

Honey: 20 calories and 5 grams carbs per teaspoon

Agave Nectar: 20 calories and 5 grams carbs per teaspoon



Want more from Molly?  Click here to sign up for Nutrition Bites, her weekly e-newsletter with links to her Get the Skinny TV segments here on WGNO, and her weekly column in|The Times-Picayune!   And you can follow Molly on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram:  @MollyKimballRD

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