White sugar is proven to raise your risk of all chronic diseases, but that doesn't mean you have to give up sweet foods to eat smart. "Alternative sweeteners are more popular than ever, and unlike table sugar, they have added health benefits." And most fall lower on the glycemic index, which means they won't spike your blood sugar like white sugar will.
Made from the sap of coconut-tree blossoms, this sweetener is loaded with zinc, potassium, iron, and vitamin B. "It also contains less fructose than table sugar, which is helpful because fructose is tough for your body to break down and metabolize," says New York City nutritionist Stephanie Middleberg.
Best uses: Despite the name, there's no coconut flavor; it has more of a caramel taste, which works well in coffee or tea. Because it's granular, it's also a great substitute for white or brown sugar in recipes.
Credit: Photograph by Svend Lindbaek