Birch Sugar (Xylitol)
With 40 percent fewer calories than white sugar and a low score on the glycemic index (which ranks a carbohydrate's effect on blood sugar and insulin), this sweetener, also known as xylitol, occurs naturally in tree fiber, corn, and some fruits.
From a South American herb, Stevia rebaudiana, stevia is much sweeter than sugar and has a slightly bitter licorice taste. Available in powder and liquid forms, it's good for diabetics because of its mild effect on blood sugar levels.
Made from fermented grains whose starches have turned to sugars, barley malt tastes slightly like malted milk balls.
Brown Rice Syrup
The rich butterscotch taste of this syrup, derived from cooked brown rice, mixes well with oatmeal and other hot whole grain cereals.
Loaded with natural enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, honey comes in a variety of colors, ranging from intensely flavorful dark brown to lighter (and milder) shades of gold. Always go organic, and because raw honey contains live spores, never use it to sweeten the food of an infant or toddler without consulting a doctor first.
A potent and highly nutritious sweetener, molasses contains all the beneficial stuff that's stripped out of sugar cane during the refining process, including iron, manganese, zinc, copper, and chromium.
This ancient sweetener made from finely ground dates offers all the fruit's vitamins and minerals, plus the calming amino acid tryptophan.
Look for organic, 100 percent pure maple syrup, which contains only the sap of maple trees-and no added corn syrup.
Sweeter than refined sugar and with a lower rating on the glycemic index, the juice of the agave cactus is a good choice for diabetics or anyone seeking to avoid a sugar rush.