holidays are fast approaching and everyone will be adding a few extra sweets to
their plate.  And with the multitude of options of sweet tastes in today’s grocery, how does one know which
type of sugar to use?   To begin with, you have
the tradition al Table (white) granulated sugar that 1 tsp = ~16 calories.  While this tends to be staple in the midwest for cooking, it is also known that high amounts
of this added sugar is associated with a greater risk for weight gain, type 2
diabetes and heart disease.  Thusly, many
individuals choose zero calorie sweeteners often called nonnutritive
sweeteners.  These zero calorie
sweeteners are often higher in intensity so you only need a little to go a long
way.  This can be good for those who do
struggle with diabetes or anyone looking to cut back on calories.  However, do not substitute the zero calorie
sweetner thinking you will lose weight if you still grab  that high calorie
sugary snack!   Below is a
list of sweeteners,  those with calories
(nutritive sweeteners) and those without (non-nutritive sweeteners).  Before substituting a sweetener in recipes,
check packages for their white sugar equivalent.


  • Table Sugar
    – highly refined  from sugar cane
    and/or sugar beet
  • Molasses –
    liquid remaining after refined sugar cane or beets.  The darker the color the better the
    source of calcium and magnesium.
  • Brown Sugar
    – a combination of table sugar and molasses
  • Turbinado
    (Raw Sugar) – made from the juice that remains after the sugar cane has
    been processed to remove the sugar crystals and molasses.  Although its color and name suggest it
    may be a healthier alternative to table sugar, it’s not.
  • Fructose –
    derived from corn (20% sweeter than sugar, so you can use less).  Found mostly in flavored waters, energy
    drinks, yogurts, nutrition bars, powdered beverage mixes and baked goods
  • Maple Syrup
    – use pure maple syrup made by boiling down sap tapped from a maple tree
    (1/4 cup = 216 calories)
  • Powdered
    Sugar – made from table sugar crushed to a fine powder with a pinch of
    cornstarch to prevent clumping. Used in candy and icing.
  • Honey –
    gathered from honey bee hives.  It
    may harbor botulism spores, so avoid feeding it to children less than 2
    years old.


  • Monk Fruit
    – Native to Asia; is 150-200 times
    sweeter than sugar with zero calories
  • Stevia –
    Extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant; is 250 times sweeter than
    sugar with zero calories. 
  • Agave
    Nectar – frojuice m the agave plant; 1 ½ sweeter than sugar.  Although often promoted as a healthier
    sweetener, agave should still be used sparingly. 
And as always, don’t forget to get plenty of exercise!
                           HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Andrea Shotton, MS, RD, LD
Registered Dietitian