Coffee sweetener alternatives worth considering
A spoonful of sugar in your morning brew may not be as bad for your health as you think. Though sugar often gets a bad rap, registered dietitian Andy DeSantis says that a bit of sugar in your coffee is likely fine – so long as you’re not over-consuming the sweetener during the rest of your day. “If you’re using a small amount in the morning,” he says, “your tastes should dictate your choice more than anything else.”
But what if you’re somebody who dumps six tablespoons of sugar into each cup of joe, or reaches for a bag of candy each afternoon? Diabetes experts recommend adults limit their sugar intake to less than 10 per cent of their total daily calories – approximately 50 grams (12 teaspoons) of sugar per day, based on a 2000-calorie diet. Meanwhile, it’s estimated that most Canadians consume more than twice that amount, at 110 grams of sugar per day.
“At the end of the day, sugar does not have any health benefits,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Stefanie Senior. “When you’re consuming sugar on a regular basis, depending on how much that is, it can be a health risk.” Cutting sugar from your morning (or afternoon) coffee can be an easy way to lower your sugar intake – or simply experiment with new flavours. Here are 10 tasty coffee sweetener alternatives worth considering.
Stevia is a zero-calorie, zero-carb sweetener extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant. While some people find stevia tastes bitter, it’s actually 100 to 300 times sweeter than sugar – allowing you to use less of it and get the same coffee sweetener kick, says De Santis. Stevia may also assist in blood sugar regulation for people with diabetes, according to a 2016 study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Plus, it won’t rot your teeth like sugar does: According to a 2017 study from the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, stevia actually helps prevent tooth decay. Your dentist – and your smile – will thank you!
Derived from the blue agave plant, this thin, honey-like syrup is lower on the glycemic index and won’t spike your blood sugar levels as much as sugar, says Senior. According to a 2019 study conducted at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, agave nectar also contains rich amounts of vitamin B6, which has been shown to contribute to your heart health. While agave is technically still considered “free sugar” – a sugar removed from its original source and added to food as a sweetener – its added benefits make it a worthy alternative. “If I wanted to sweeten my coffee, I would definitely sweeten it with agave over white table sugar,” says Senior.