Nothing’s more comforting on colder days than a warm cup of tea. Rich in antioxidants, it helps boost the immune system and provides protection against heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Many of us enjoy the sweetened version of these teas, usually by adding white sugar. But with recent reports of sugar being bad for our health, it’s time to switch to healthier alternatives. The following are natural sugar alternatives that can work well for your favorite cup of tea:

1. Honey

Natural Sugar Alternatives for your cup of tea When it comes to healthier sugar alternatives, honey usually comes to mind. It’s one of the most popular natural sweeteners that has been used for centuries. It is produced by the bees from the nectar of the flowers.

Honey is sweeter than table sugar but has twice the nutritional benefits. It is rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium. This sweet liquid can be used for a variety of purposes. They can be added to drinks such as tea and can also be used for cooking and baking.

When choosing honey, remember that the darker is the color, the stronger is its taste. It has the tendency to solidify at room temperature but you can warm its container to turn it back into its liquid state.

2. Date Sugar

Date sugar comes from dehydrated and ground dates. They can be a little sweeter than table sugar so a small amount of it is needed to sweeten a drink or food.

This type of natural sugar is a healthier alternative to white sugar because there is minimal processing involved in producing it. Because it’s made from finely chopped dried dates, date sugar can clump. This is isn’t an issue when added to drinks but it can be a problem when used in baking.

3. Stevia

Stevia is derived from a plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. Some species of it grow in certain places like New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona while the most popular ones grow in Paraguay and Brazil.

The leaves of the stevia plant have been used for years to sweeten food and drinks. In some regions, the stevia leaves have some medicinal purposes. They are used as remedies for stomach problems like colic and for burns.

Although stevia is sweeter than the refined sugar, it is still considered a healthier alternative because it doesn’t have calories. Several studies also suggest that the plant can have other health benefits. In one research, it shows that stevia can be a promising remedy for hypertension.

4. Coconut Sugar

By-products of coconuts are becoming popular these days. One of these is coconut sugar. Made from the boiled and dehydrated sap of coconut palm, coconut sugar is more expensive than refined sugar. However, it offers more nutritional benefits.

This natural sugar contains potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, zinc, copper, and some traces of vitamin C. Small amounts of flavonoids, antioxidants, and polyphenols can also be found in coconut sugar.

Compared to table sugar, coconut sugar doesn’t cause a sudden surge in blood sugar level. In the glycemic load index, coconut sugar only ranks 35 while table sugar is between 60 and 75.

5. Molasses

Molasses is also known as the black treacle. This dark syrup is a result of refining sugar cane and sugar beets. If it’s from a sugar cane that grows in high quality soil, then molasses can be rich in minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium.

When buying molasses, opt for the blackstrap as a tablespoon of it can provide you with 20% of the daily recommended intake of calcium and 40% of the daily recommended intake of iron.

6. Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is derived from a plant native to Mexico. This sweet, brown liquid has become a popular alternative to table sugar. Its taste is similar to molasses; the darker is its color, the richer is its taste.

It is sweeter than table sugar but is low in glycemic index. A tablespoon of agave nectar only contains 60 calories.

7. Brown Rice Syrup

Brown rice syrup is a by-product of enzyme-treated whole grain rice. It’s considered a complex carbohydrate and many find it more satisfying than other natural sugar substitutes.

Although a tablespoon of it only contains 55 calories, it ranks high in glycemic index. Hence, it is not for those who have high blood sugar levels.

Avoiding white sugar doesn’t mean you will no longer enjoy your cup of tea. You can use these natural sugar alternatives instead to get your dose of sweetness without the fear of getting the health risks from table sugar.