Sugar – the food that many of us have a love hate relationship with. Sugar and sweetness are associated with fun, treats, and comfort, but on the flipside, it can be our biggest craving, the hardest to give up, especially at 3pm when we need a lift.

Excessive consumption of sugar is associated with an increase in health conditions like obesity and type II diabetes. Too much sugar can disrupt the delicate balance of our hormones, our microbiome, and impair our immunity. But is sweetness all bad?

No way. There are other ways to get the sweet flavour into your cooking, baking, and drinks that are more nutritious and have less health implications than just normal refined sugar. Let’s explore natural sweeteners

What defines a natural sweetener?

natural sweetener is one that is derived from a plant food rather than being synthetically made like an artificial sweetener. By this definition sugar is a natural sweetener, as is honey, xylitol, stevia, coconut sugar, maple syrup and others. Some natural sweeteners are less refined than others.

Having a sweetener that is closer to its wholefood form is ideal because refining can strip the nutrient content. Fascinatingly, the very nutrients often required for the metabolism of sugar are the ones stripped during the refining process.

Honey straight from a hive or maple syrup out of a tree are likely the most unrefined sweeteners available, but many of us are reliant on the ability to purchase natural sweeteners from a store since hives in our backyards and Maple trees aren’t as common as perhaps we would like them to be.


What is it?
Syrups often bring fond memories of delicious breakfasts on Sunday mornings. Wholefood syrups are usually rich in sweet and natural flavour, and beautifully pourable onto desserts or into recipes as a sugar replacement.

Apple Syrup is made by a process of boiling apples down to a thick tangy syrup. It’s a great addition to muffin mixes, or on pancakes. Blackstrap Molasses is from sugar cane and is a by-product from early on in the extraction process. Blackstrap molasses is rich in minerals and has a strong flavour, and it can be used to sweeten anything if you like the flavour, or our favourite way, just straight off the spoon.

Organic Rice Syrup can be used as an alternative to honey for those who have allergies or who avoid animal products if following a vegan diet. Brown rice syrup is made through the process of cooking the rice, enabling natural enzymes to break down starches into sugars. The liquid is then further heated and reduced to a syrup.

What makes them naturally better?
The minimised processing makes these sweeteners higher in minerals. Their flavours are strong and intense, and the liquid form makes them easy to use for lots of things, hot or cold.

What do they taste like?
Apple Syrup gives a sweet and tangy flavour. Blackstrap Molasses has a strong sweet, and slightly smoky flavour. The amazing dark colour will contribute colour to anything it is added to. And Organic Rice Syrup has a delicious caramel sweetness and slightly nutty flavour. Its sticky honey-like consistency makes this natural sweetener one of my favourites.

Best used for?
Drizzling over pancakes!

Our favourite Syrup Sweetener recipe:
Fresh Plum and Sweet Apple Shortcake

Coconut Sweeteners

What is it?
Coconut Sugar is made from the coconut nectar that has been dehydrated until it is in a granulated form.

Coconut Nectar is the Maple Syrup of the coconut tree. The thick stems of the coconut blossoms are tapped and then dehydrated to produce a beautiful rich syrup that contains amino acids and nutrients like vitamins and minerals.

What makes them naturally better?
Both Coconut Sugar and Coconut Nectar offer a lower GI than cane sugar, so this is a better option for supporting balanced blood sugar. They can be used as a direct replacement for sugar and golden syrup in recipes. 

What does it taste like?
Coconut Sugar and Coconut Syrup has a delicious rich caramel-treacle flavour.

Best used for?
In baking!

Our favourite Coconut Sweetener recipes:
Feijoa and Apple Crumble
Flourless Fudgy Kumara Brownies
Raw Cacao Hot Chocolate

Monk Fruit

What is it?
Monk Fruit is also known as Buddha fruit or Luo hanguo. The sweetener is an extract derived from the fruit. The seeds and skin are removed, and the fruit juiced, then dehydrated into a powder.

What makes it naturally better?
Monk Fruit doesn’t impact on blood sugar levels, and is suitable for those following a keto, low carb, or diabetes friendly diet. It has been getting a lot of attention in recent years because it doesn’t cause irritability in the bowel like some sugar alcohols can, so is a gut-friendly addition to many recipes.

What does it taste like?
The extract tastes a lot sweeter than sugar (200 times!) and there are concentrate products available as well as blends which help to reduce the intensity and make it able to be used in a similar way to sugar.

Best used for?
A sweet addition for those on a keto diet. It comes in a variety of delicious flavours that are wonderful additions to Keto desserts. If you’re adapting to a low carb diet and are trying to reduce milk from coffees or other hot drinks, give Keto Coffee Creamers a try. They can help reduce some of the bitterness that comes with milk-free hot drinks.

Our favourite Monk Fruit recipes:
Avocado Chocolate Mousse
No-bake Summer Berry Tart


What is it?
Stevia is a sweet tasting plant. The stevia-based sweeteners are made by extracting the steviol glycosides from the leaves. If stevia isn’t purified, it can stimulate both the bitter and sweet taste receptors.

What makes it naturally better?
Similar to Monk Fruit, it doesn’t impact on blood sugar levels and is much sweeter than sugar so less is more. Stevia is one of the older natural sweeteners and gained popularity in the 2000’s when it disrupted the sweeteners category, of which was quite limited at the time to mainly sugar or artificial sweeteners.

What does it taste like?
Stevia is super sweet - available in a concentrate and with different flavours from Vanilla to Caramel. And just like the Monk Fruit, it’s blended with erythritol so that it can be used 1:1 like sugar in recipes.

Best used for?
Making water more exciting! Add a few drops of Liquid Stevia Lemon to sparkling water for a refreshing drink.

Xylitol and Erythritol

What is it?
These are both known as sugar alcohols. They are partially undigestible and a source of fibre. Sugar alcohols have a similar structure to sugar so trigger the sweet taste bud receptors.

What makes them naturally better?
They are derived from plants, usually corn or birch and are naturally sweet substances that don’t impact on blood glucose. They can be difficult for people following a low FODMAP diet to digest but are useful for those who want to have sweetness without the calorie or blood sugar burden.

Best used for?
Baking when you want to reduce the sugar content.

Our favourite Xylitol and Erythritol recipes:
Cookies and Cream Keto Waffles

There you have it - your guide to natural sweeteners. If you’re looking to reduce your refined sugar intake, then exploring our range of natural sweeteners is a good place to start.

You won’t find any first-generation artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup in anything we sell, and you can learn more about Our Sugar Policy and Where We Stand With Sugar so you can make better choices.

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