Is your sugar substitute worse than sugar?

By Jordanna Levin |

When you quit sugar there are a host of sugar substitutes that are used in recipes and food products to replace the sweetness. Unfortunately, most of them are still packed full of fructose (the bit we’re trying to avoid), and in some instances contain more fructose than regular table sugar. Eek!

We’ve put together this definitive guide to the fructose content of popular sugar substitutes to help you figure out the best fructose-free sweeteners for you.


  • Sucrose is also known as white table sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar and rapadura sugar. It contains 50 per cent fructose and 50 per cent glucose.
  • Agave is a sugar substitute made from the same Mexican succulent that tequila is made from. It contains roughly 90 per cent fructose – higher than sucrose! Look out for it in “health” bars and chocolate.
  • Coconut sugar/nectar/syrup: You’ll often find one of these variations of coconut sugar in many health food products. Unfortunately, it contains anywhere between 38 per cent to 48.5 per cent fructose, which is almost the same amount found in sucrose.
  • Honey: Whether it’s raw or organic doesn’t matter when it comes to fructose content. Honey contains 40 per cent fructose, which is only 10 per cent less than sucrose.
  • Maple syrup is often used as a healthier sugar alternative. Unlike other sugar substitutes it does have some health benefits but still contains up to 40 per cent fructose.
  • Dates are often used to sweeten “sugar-free” recipes, but they contain roughly 30 per cent fructose. Plus they often need to be used in large quantities to get the same sweetness.
  • Rice malt syrup is made from fermented cooked rice. It’s a blend of complex carbohydrates, maltose and glucose. It’s 100 per cent fructose-free. It is our preferred sweetener of choice.
  • Stevia is a plant-based sweetener. It’s completely fructose-free and 300 times sweeter than sugar. It’s great in recipes where you want to add a little sweetness, but avoid using it in large quantities as it can have a bitter aftertaste.

For more great sugar info, sign up for our 8-Week Program.

For some great fructose-free recipes, visit our I Quit Sugar recipe repository.

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