White sugar is a standby in the kitchen, but there are plenty of reasons to seek out alternatives. Alternative sweeteners lend a different flavor to foods — be they baked goods, salad dressings or cocktails — and some of them even have health benefits. (Keep in mind, though, that added sugar is added sugar, no matter the source. For your health, that should be limited to 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons for men.)
Maple syrup: Thank researchers in Rhode Island for bringing us some sweet news about maple syrup. They discovered several anti-inflammatory compounds in maple syrup, including a new one that they named Quebecol. A drizzle can sweeten coffee with its distinctive maple flavor.
Honey: Honey can take on some of the flavors of the flowers pollinated by honeybees. It shines best in dishes where you can appreciate its subtle flavor, such as stirred into tea or drizzled on steel-cut oatmeal along with a splash of heavy cream.
Turbinado sugar: This is a raw cane sugar that is less processed than brown sugar and has some of the natural molasses in it. You can pretty much use it in place of white sugar — it generally has a larger grain, which gives baked goods a nice crunch when it’s sprinkled on top.
Molasses: It’s kind of an old-fashioned ingredient, but one of the best in terms of extra health benefits. Blackstrap molasses — the dark, intensely flavored kind — is an excellent source of calcium and iron (a tablespoon gives you 20 percent of the daily value). Bake it into cookies or go all Little House on the Prairie and spread it on toast.
Monk fruit: The latest zero-calorie sweetener to hit shelves is monk fruit extract, made from a fruit grown in sub-tropical Asia. It’s 200 times sweeter than sugar, and it’s blended with other ingredients, such as stevia, in some zero-calorie sweeteners.