Caring for Your Elderly Parent: 11 Best Refined Sugar Alternatives

Refined sugar can cause health issues for people from all walks of life. Older individuals are particularly vulnerable to the harmful side effects of consuming refined sugar. If you are the adult child of an older parent who enjoys sweets – who consumes refined sugar – you may have concerns for his or her health. With that in mind, there are 11 solid alternatives to refined sugar. 

The 11 best substitutes for refined sugar are:

  • Raw honey
  • Stevia
  • Dates
  • Coconut sugar
  • Maple sugar
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Balsamic glaze
  • Banana puree
  • Brown rice sugar
  • Real fruit jam 
  • Monk fruit

Impact of Refined Sugar on the Health of Older Women and Men

Before considering 11 alternatives to refined sugar that your mother or father might enjoy, a brief review of some of the health hazards associated with this type of sugar is important. Consuming too much sugar can increase a person’s weight to unhealthy levels. Refined sugar can make certain organs, particularly the liver, fatty. 

Refined sugar can lead to heart disease. It can also play havoc on a person’s cholesterol levels. Eating too much refined sugar can impair a person’s appetite control. Refined sugar also has the ability to make a person depressed. An older individual is particularly susceptible to depression included by refined sugar.

Raw Honey

Raw honey is a prime substitute for refined sugar. It is one of the best natural sweeteners available to your older parent – and to you, for that matter. Raw honey is considered a true superfood. In addition to being a great replacement for refined sugar, raw sugar is packed with a variety of other beneficial substances that can improve an older person’s health rather than take a toll on it. These include:

  • Enzymes
  • Antioxidants
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin B6
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin


Stevia is native to South America. Stevia has been used for hundreds of years in that part of the world. It is confirmed to support healthy blood sugar levels. Stevia can also prompt weight loss.

Stevioside is the element in the leaves that makes stevia 200 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia available in liquid drops, packets, dissolvable tablets, and baking blends.

Other benefits of stevia include:

  • Zero calories
  • Zero carbohydrates
  • None of the side effects of artificial sweeteners


Dates can be turned into a paste and used as a sweetener for such things as baking. In addition to being a healthy sweetener, dates have other benefits. They provide a variety of vitamins and minerals that include:

  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B6

Dates are also helpful in metabolizing proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. From the date palm tree, 

Evidence shows that dates may help reduce LDL or so-called bad cholesterol. There is some evidence that dates may reduce the risk of stroke.

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is one of the more recent refined sugar replacements, becoming more widely used all of the time. Coconut sugar is derived from coconut blooms. It is in liquid form and is heated, which results in evaporation. 

Coconut sugar contains a variety of minerals and other nutrients that are beneficial to people of all ages, including people in their Golden Years:

  • Polyphenols
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Antioxidants
  • Phosphorous
  • Phytonutrients

Maple Sugar

While time-consuming, maple sugar is an excellent, healthy substitute for refined sugar. The process for making maple sugar involves four steps:

  • Drilling a hole in an appropriate maple tree
  • Hanging a bucket to catch sap
  • Boiling to evaporate out water
  • Filtering out sediment

Blackstrap Molasses 

Organic blackstrap molasses is a great substitute for refined sugar. In addition, blackstrap molasses is rich in:

  • Copper
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Manganese
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin B6

Balsamic Glaze

Balsamic glaze has a bit more limited range of uses than some of the other refined sugar substitutes discussed previously in this article. This type of glaze is made from balsamic vinegar. It is available in natural and health food stores. It can also be made at home fairly easily. This is accomplished by simmering two cups of balsamic vinegar over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until it’s reduced to one-half cup.

Balsamic glaze can be Drizzled over food items like grilled wild-caught salmon, raw cheese, or even fresh berries. Balsamic glaze will bring a natural sweetness and a bit of a tang to food items to which it is added.

Banana Puree

Banana puree is a good sugar substitute for baking. It is derived from over-ripe bananas. It can be added to recipes in the same proportion as refined sugar.

Brown Rice Syrup

Brown rice syrup is derived from brown rice that has been fermented. The liquid obtained from the fermentation process is then boiled until it reaches the consistency of syrup. Brown rice syrup is a healthy alternative to refined sugar and corn syrup.

Real Fruit Jam

Real fruit jam is a healthy replacement for refined sugar in recipes. A variety of fruits and berries can be used to make real fruit jam to be used as a sugar substitute.  

You can replace refined sugar with real fruit jam in recipes at a one-to-one ratio. When using real fruit jam, you decrease the liquid in the recipe by one-quarter cup. When you have recipes that don’t have added liquids, you can add a tablespoon of coconut flour to thicken the recipe as desired.

Monk Fruit

Finally, monk fruit is a healthy alternative to refined sugar. Monk fruit is becoming one of the most popular sugar substitutes. It is also popular among people who eat for low-carb diets. Monk fruit contains compounds that, when extracted, provide between 300 to 400 times the sweetness of refined sugar. Monk fruit sugar contains no calories and has no effect on blood sugar.

If you are interested in encouraging your parent to try one or another of these refined sugar substitutes, consider having samples available for your mother or father to taste. Merely talking about potential alternatives to refined sugar is less compelling than providing an older person with actual samples to taste and consider.