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Thoughts on sweeteners

What are optimal sweeteners to use? I use stevia when i can, but what about dates, honey, agave, molasses. They all have their drawbacks: Dates=high sugar, honey=not vegan and high sugar, agave= not raw, molasses= not raw. And they all have their benefits: dates= raw tasty goodness, honey= superfood if its raw, locally and humanely sourced, agave= low GI syrupy goodness, molasses= high mineral content dense yum. What to use? What to stay away from or use rarely? Why?


  • Great Post! Wow, the thoughts on sweeteners could go on and on. Many books are probably written just about each one individually as well as comparing and contrasting. I don’t think that anyone could proclaim the OVERALL superiority of one over the other of those you mentioned. I use a little of each for different things. I was thinking today how I’d like to just not use any of the above and completely do without it. But I love sweet. At least we’re trying to limit the overall usage of sweeteners and stick with just whole foods. I use agave nectar in ice creams, puddings, crusts. Dates for occasional snack (only one or two at a time). Raw honey in my husbands tea. Maple syrup, rarely. And I know it’s awful, but I do use organic evaporated cane juice in my morning coffee.

    I think we’re almost to the point as a society that we’ve trained our own bodies over the generations with the processed, oversweet, chemically sweetened SAD to the point that we don’t know how to live without sweeteners and we’re chained to trying to find acceptable alternatives. LOL.

  • iknikn

    I think the key is moderation as with everything else. I like raw honey and I get it from a local beekeeper. I use soaked dates and raisins for swetening. But lately I use them very sparingly. Don’t really care for agave or molasses. Everybody is different, what works for me may not be a good choice for somebody else.

  • Great analysis, Bubbaw6! I’ve never seen the debate layed out quite so concisely.

    I think they all taste different and most have their place. You can interchange, but there are just some recipes that raw honey “makes”, since it has the consistency of creamed butter and brown sugar. I think raw honey would be sort of weird in avocado choc. mousse, though, whereas dates are wonderful!

    I think you have to experiment and see what works best for you. You may develop a sense of which sweetner will work best in each recipe given the other ingredients and desired texture.

  • Branwyn32Branwyn32 Raw Newbie

    Here’s a question…does anyone know what sweetener is lowest in calories? Honey and agave are equal, I know that much.

    Also at Whole Foods, they have what says “raw agave nectar.” But it looks identical to the dark amber agave. Is there any difference in rawness or taste?

    Oh, and where could one find raw honey? I had the same experience with that in WF too…it says raw but it looks identical to normal honey, just has the honeycomb in there.

  • iknikn

    I’ve seen raw honey in the healthfood store. It looks differently than heated “regular” honey. The one i’ve seen is lighter in color and it has a buttery substance, not liquid. I get mine from a local beekeeper. Try to search the internet maybe you too have one close by.

  • JoyceHJoyceH Raw Newbie

    I use stevia in tea and my green smoothies. I do use the agave that’s labeled raw for chia seed puddings, salad dressings and recipes that call for it. I use dates for my husband’s green smoothies. My husband likes local raw honey in his teas.

    We love maple syrup and buy it a half mile down the road from the folks who make it right in the sugar shack next to their house. It’s not raw but does have B-vitamins and it doesn’t get more ‘local’ than that! We love real maple syrup and think it’s the best sweetner in the world :-)

  • I use raw honey that I bought at whole foods (has a big sticker that says it has not been pasteurized and is local)

    I heard though that yacon syrup is good but not sure if its raw.

  • Yacon syrup is lower in calories than agave (I don’t know about honey, won’t use it) – it has 30 calories per T. as opposed to 60. But it does have a stronger flavor. I think both in concert, along with dates and raisins, are excellent.

  • troublesjustabubbletroublesjustabubble Raw Newbie

    I don’t really sweeten anything anymore. I used to use honey. It’s the most tasty and nutrient even though it’s not vegan.

    I like dates to snack on occasionally but they’re so rich I can only handle a couple. I think because I get so much sugar from all the fruit I eat that I don’t crave sugar anymore. It’s actually really nice.

  • im with u trouble i do use agave in my tea in the mornings, dates I just got sick of them after awhile it seemed like everything had dates. Stevia tastes as bad as the name. So i guess with all the post we still are not to a good conclusion ..LOL

  • In most all my recipes I use stevia (too much and it will be bitter) and then just a little honey, dates, or agave. To me it is cheaper and better for me this way.

  • DreaDrea Raw Master

    i must admit, right now i use allot of agave nectar! But, i am switching to dates now.

  • lzhptlzhpt Raw Newbie

    Dates are best in fall and winter so we are really at the worst for them right now, but they are the best as date paste in everything calling for agave. i just don’t trust a “syrup” that comes from another country. i do occasionally use Really Raw honey.

  • steviostevio Raw Newbie

    IK would like to use stevia, despite the fact that I don’t crave sugar. It is purported to aid in the recovery of diabetes and help with regulating blood sugar. This is very attractive to me. My only problem: I can’t seem to find it locally. Anyone know a good source of a reasonably priced product that is actually raw?

  • wow! thanks for all the feedback! I just started using some local raw honey. I talked to the bee keeper at the farmers market so I know where its from and how she keeps her bees, so Im ok in the not strict veganism there. Im going to order dates from the DatePeople (datepeople.net, i believe) you can get them organic, raw,and in bulk for like 3 bucks a pound. Anyone know the story on the colors of agave? Ive heard the darker it is the more processed it is and that true raw agave is clear. Is this true? I may just get maple syrup to use instead of agave. I can get it produced locally and that just seems to be a happy planet solution.

  • beanybeeganbeanybeegan Raw Newbie

    ikn, for many years I had about 6 bee hives. This was raw honey and the texture was just like the honey from the stores. I think the buttery kind is whipped honey.

  • How is the drawback of dates “high sugar”? Of course it’s high sugar, it’s sweet. Isn’t that the point? Just don’t use a ton of it and you’ll be fine. What scares me is all those crazy chemical sweeteners out on the market today. Who knows what kind of crazy mad-scientist garbage they throw in there? There’s no way that stuff can be better for you than natural sweeteners, I don’t care how much sugar and calories they have!

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