3 Natural Sweeteners for Cancer Prevention


Did you know that there are sweeteners in your pantry that have been shown to fight cancer? Yep! And not those artificial sugars that taste horrible and don't have any nutritional benefit!

In this article, I discuss the dangers of consuming processed sugars, share three of my favorite natural sweeteners for cancer prevention, and cover the importance of balancing the “glycemic index” with taste and health. And, don't worry, it's not as confusing as you may think!

Current Health Care Crisis

Our health and our health care system both rank at the bottom of virtually every study and survey today, yet Americans spend more on health care and supplements than any other country. (1, 2, 3) As we take every supplement under the sun and bathe ourselves in coconut oil and fish oils, people are coming to the realization that their food choices – especially processed sugars, artificial sweeteners and high-processed carbohydrate diets – have more to do with causing cancer and other diseases than what they may have initially thought.  As a result, a growing number of people are looking for natural sweeteners for cancer prevention that not taste great and satisfy their sugar cravings.

The Sugar Habit

First off, I am convinced that consuming processed sugars is the primary cause of cancer today. Why?

Because processed sugars:

  • Feed cancer  
  • Dampen the immune system
  • Has no nutritional value
  • Are in virtually EVERY processed food on the market

They are everywhere, which is why it's so difficult to cut harmful sweeteners out of your diet!

Consuming processed sugar and simple carbohydrates can lead to an addictive dopamine cycle, and most people are addicted to the stuff without even knowing it! Research has actually shown that there is a neurochemical similarity between intermittent binging on sucrose and drugs of abuse: “both can repeatedly increase extracellular [dopamine levels] in the nucleus accumbens.” (4) In fact, sugar is more addictive than cocaine. (5) Eight times more addictive, to be precise, according to Mark Hyman, MD. (6)

Have you ever wondered why it’s so challenging to eat just one cookie or have one slurp of a cola? Like narcotics, the dramatic fall back to Earth after riding high on the sugar clouds will create an intense craving in your body for another “hit.”

This is why it’s important to consume as many natural, whole foods as possible because they will trigger a gradual, moderate amount of feel-good hormones. However, eating sugary treats will cause a spike in these feel-good hormones which then causes people to crash soon afterwards.

How Sugar Affects Immunity

Everything should be done in moderation, right?

Absolutely not! Nothing could be further from the truth.

In addition to being horribly addictive, sugar dampens your immune system, making you more susceptible to falling prey to an infection and can even lead to chronic disease because of the inflammatory response it triggers in the body.

Immediately after it's been consumed, sugar literally shuts down white blood cell effectiveness and puts the body in danger for up to 5 hours. (7) Most people don't realize this.

According to nutritionist K.C. Craichy (Quest for the Cures), just 100 grams of sugar inhibits our white blood cell’s ability to kill the pathogens in our body by up to 90%. And this happens within 15 minutes of consumption. (8)

To put this in more familiar terms, American Anti-Cancer Institute Founder Bob Wright confirms that data from a 1973 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition still holds true today: “One can of [soda] has enough sugar to shut down 50% of our immune system for a minimum of 4 hours.”

And, according to the American Anti-Cancer Institute:

When we consume sugar, we are simultaneously shutting off our defenses while pouring gasoline on the fire that is Cancer. When we take into account that “50 to 70% of our total immune system cells cannot see cancer … even on our best day,” the notion of adding sugar to our diet seems even more blasphemous (A.J. Lanigan, Quest for the Cures).

More Risks With Sugar Than Previously Expected

Sugar is conceivably the most dangerous substance on the planet and we should avoid it like the plague. Nancy Appleton, PhD, even claims that there are literally 141 ways sugar ruins your health. (9)

Sugar contains absolutely no nutritional value, and it has been reported to: (10, 11, 12)

  • Cause dental cavities.
  • Cause skin conditions like acne and eczema.
  • Contribute to hormone imbalance and adrenal fatigue.
  • Deplete your body of natural energy and prevent mineral absorption in your bones.
  • Encourage stomach ulcer formation.
  • Feed candida.
  • Greatly inhibit metabolism.
  • Lead to osteoporosis and arthritis.
  • Cause gallstones.
  • Spike blood sugar levels.
  • Suppress the immune system.

Sugar is literally everywhere and that's the real danger of sugar.

The American Nutrition Association says:

“According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the average adult in the United States takes in 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, or a whopping 150 pounds a year, while teens pile in 34 teaspoons a day. That’s more than twice the amount of sugar we should be eating.” (13)

Glycemic Index

A lot of so-called “natural sweeteners” have gained a lot of fanfare recently because they are low on the glycemic index. 

Spearheaded by the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders and Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney, the glycemic index (or GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to their ability to raise blood sugar (glucose) levels after eating. It is also an important factor to maintaining weight loss. (21)

  • High GI foods – those which are rapidly digested, absorbed and metabolized, which result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar (glucose) levels.
  • Low GI foods  – those that produce smaller fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels and are thought to be one of the secrets to long-term health, reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

It's important to keep in mind that there is a lot more to the story than just the GI score. Whether or not a sweetener is natural, artificial, loaded with chemicals, and is digestible should be considered before consuming it. This is why I'm a big fan of the three sweeteners: stevia, honey and maple syrup.

For a list of common sweeteners and their glycemic index, see below.

3 Natural Sweeteners Safe To Enjoy

When it comes to cancer prevention, eating the right foods is just as important as NOT eating the bad ones, so keep this in mind when making baked goods and satisfying your sweet tooth. Thankfully, natural sweeteners are readily available so kicking the sugar habit can be a cinch if you use these three instead of sugar.

1. Stevia – By far the healthiest and sweetest natural sweetener, stevia is an herb that has been shown to help reverse diabetes and obesity. Stevia is the best natural sweetener for two reasons:

  • It is a natural plant that has powerful healing properties.
  • It has no calories and has a 0 glycemic index. When it is used instead of sugar (and other natural sweeteners), blood glucose levels are not affected.

Of the 350 scientific articles referencing stevia, we are starting to see that stevia can help with more than diabetes and obesity, which are known causes of cancer. The Nutrition and Cancer Journal, for example, recently published a groundbreaking study showing how stevia can actually help prevent and kill breast cancer! (14) Time will tell how truly effective this wonderfully sweet herb can benefit our health and wellness.

This is my favorite liquid stevia.

And this is my favorite powdered stevia. 

2. Raw Honey – Ranking #2, most raw, unfiltered honey is a rich source of: (15)

  • Amino acids
  • B vitamins (B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid)
  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Zinc

Honey is an extremely effective wound healer and has also been known to help with irritable bowel syndrome, acne, eczema, MRSA, tooth decay and a slew of other disorders.

Taking just one teaspoon of local raw honey has been shown to enhance immune function by building a tolerance to local pollen.

The International Archives of Allergy and Immunology published an article that discovered that pre-seasonal daily use of birch pollen honey decreased allergy symptoms by 60%! (16)

If you can afford it, get some Manuka honey. It's a little pricey, but is a powerhouse immune booster. If it's out of your budget, you can find raw, local honey at your local health food store for pretty cheap.

3. Maple Syrup – Shown to kill colon cancer cells, maple syrup is a delightful replacement for most baked good recipes. (17) It is rich in calcium, iron, zinc and manganese. University of Rhode Island researcher Navindra Seeram states:

“I continue to say that nature is the best chemist, and that maple syrup is becoming a champion food when it comes to the number and variety of beneficial compounds found in it. It’s important to note that in our laboratory research we found that several of these compounds possess anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses.” (18)

We buy our maple syrup a few gallons at a time in Michigan at a Farmer's Market near my wife's old hometown when we visit family. Try to get yours local and organic if possible. You can also get maple syrup here.

Honorable Mention (BlackstrapMolasses) – being exceptionally nutrient-dense, molasses also contains cancer-fighting properties. (source) According to one study, “Blackstrap molasses is rich in a variety of essential minerals including iron, zinc, selenium, magnesium and potassium as well as the majority of the vitamin B complex, deficiencies of which confer a major cancer risk. Molasses also contains high concentrations of amino acids and linoleic acid, an essential lipid that has a documented anti-tumor effect.”

Make sure your molasses is organic and unsulphured

What About Agave & Sugar Alcohols?

Both agave and sugar alcohols like xylitol have been praised for being “natural” sweeteners and many health care providers are recommending them because they are low on the glycemic index. First of all, they are anything BUT natural. Secondly, they are quite toxic to the body.

Ever since the 1950s, researchers have known that xylitol: (19)

  • Cannot be properly metabolized by humans.
  • Causes digestive issues like gas, bloating and diarrhea.
  • Gets stored in the liver, which can contribute to long-term liver damage.

Agave is even worse. A great explanation came from a recent Dr. Oz article where the famed medical celebrity retracted his opinion of agave.

“After careful consideration of the available research, today I’m asking you to eliminate agave from your kitchen and your diet. Here’s why:

“We used to think that because agave has a low-glycemic index and doesn’t spike your blood sugar like regular sugar does, it would be a good alternative for diabetics. But it turns out that although agave doesn’t contain a lot of glucose, it contains more fructose than any other common sweetener, including high-fructose corn syrup.” (20)

Does It Sound Too Good To Be True?

Let common sense be your guide when it comes to choosing sweeteners. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Enjoy stevia, raw honey and maple syrup – these three have been tested by both time and science to not only satisfy your sweet tooth, but are also healing and life giving.

Glycemic Index of Common Sweeteners

The University of Sydney publishes a searchable database containing the results of glycemic testing.

Sweetener Type Glycemic Index
Maltodextrin Sugar 110
Maltose Sugar 105
Dextrose Sugar 100
Glucose Sugar 100
Trehalose Sugar 70
HFCS-42 Modified Sugar 68
Sucrose Sugar 65
Caramel Modified Sugar 60
Golden Syrup Modified Sugar 60
Inverted Sugar Modified Sugar 60
Refiners Syrup Modified Sugar 60
HFCS-55 Modified Sugar 58
Blackstrap Molasses Sugar Extract 55
Maple Syrup Natural Sugar 54
Honey Natural Sugar 50
Sorghum Syrup Natural Sugar 50
Lactose Sugar 45
Cane Juice Sugar Extract 43
Barley Malt Syrup Modified Sugar 42
HSH Sugar Alcohol 35
Coconut Palm Sugar Natural Sugar 35
Maltitol Sugar Alcohol 35
HFCS-90 Modified Sugar 31
Brown Rice Syrup Modified Sugar 25
Fructose Sugar 25
Galactose Sugar 25
Agave Syrup Modified Sugar 15
Xylitol Sugar Alcohol 12
Glycerol Sugar Alcohol 5
Sorbitol Sugar Alcohol 4
Lactitol Sugar Alcohol 3
Isomalt Sugar Alcohol 2
Mannitol Sugar Alcohol 2
Erythritol Sugar Alcohol 1
Yacon Syrup Natural Sweetener 1
Oligofructose Sugar Fiber 1
Inulin Sugar Fiber 1
Brazzein Natural Sweetener 0
Curculin Natural Sweetener 0
Glycyrrhizin Natural Sweetener 0
Luo Han Guo Natural Sweetener 0
Miraculin Natural Sweetener 0
Monellin Natural Sweetener 0
Pentadin Natural Sweetener 0
Stevia Natural Sweetener 0
Thaumatin Natural Sweetener 0
Acesulfame K Artificial Sweetener 0
Alitame Artificial Sweetener 0
Aspartame Artificial Sweetener 0
Cyclamate Artificial Sweetener 0
Neotame Artificial Sweetener 0
Saccharin Artificial Sweetener 0
Sucralose Artificial Sweetener 0

This post currently has 43 comments.

  1. Diana Arrell
    April 24, 2017

    You didn’t mention molasses & I had always heard it was very good for you. Is the sugar spike too high or is there another reason it is not included as a healthy choice?

    • Dr. Z
      April 25, 2017

      Just added a section including molasses as an ‘honorable mention.’ It’s a good sweetener, just not my favorite because of the flavor. You either love it or hate it. 🙂

  2. Annette
    April 23, 2017

    Can you tell me if Stevia in the Raw is okay? My husband has type 2 diabetes
    Thank you

  3. Diana
    April 23, 2017

    Dr. Z,

    Thanks for all your hard work and biblical insights. I’m a Christian living in Bali, Indonesia. I’ve been diagnosed with candida, so among the three natural sweeteners I think I can only use Stevia and not raw honey or maple syrup no matter how much I love them. Am I right, or (hopefully) can I consume them? Many thanks for your reply.

    • Dr. Z
      April 25, 2017

      I wouldn’t go that extreme, but you know your body and I’d be looking out for flare-ups for sure.

  4. Vicki Jones
    April 23, 2017

    After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, stage 4, Inoperable in 4/15, then undergoing chemo and a partial Whipple, I saw The Truth About Cancer’s “The Quest Continues” and immediately cut refined sugar and artificial sweeteners from my diet. I began adding more organic foods to my diet, cut out refined, processed foods, eating clean, GMO free foods, and pasture raised dairy, eggs, and meats, among many more dietary changes. I had severe, chronic back and nerve pain and damage for 32 years, which led to disability. Within a month the pain level kept reducing until now it is half what it was before the changes! Praise God I watched the series and my daughter and I made the efforts to change!! Still undergoing cancer treatment, but am making decisions to find even more alternative methods of treatment-we’ve changed more than diet alone!! This is my valid email address but it is not being accepted-strange-I get emails from your ministry every week!

    • Dr. Z
      April 25, 2017

      Wow, praise God!

  5. Siroun
    April 23, 2017

    Thanks for your hard work, Dr. Z! Now I am confused in what type of suger one should use to have a healthy body! After reading about artificial sweeteners not being heakty and Agave was on the healty side! I started baking (cakes) for my grandchildren using agave in cookings and to give them healthy choice of cakes and cookies instead of store bought! I’ve seen stevia are sold in small amount in the store. So, what the reasearch is showing that we should use Maple syrup in cakes or cookis! How about for someone who is watching the A1C level, what kind of sweatener should use.

    • Dr. Z
      April 23, 2017

      Hi Siroun,

      I know it can be confusing. Sometimes, it’s about choose the lessor of two “evils.” For my family, we stick with stevia, maple syrup and honey. They are all nutritious, cancer-fighting and if we’re at a restaurant, I’ll “indulge” and have a gluten-free desert with agave – NEVER anything with cane sugar or white processed sugar.

      Hope and pray you find that balance for you and your family!

      • Tomeittt
        April 25, 2017

        I read there is Maple Syrup Grade A and Grade B.. is this really true?

        • Dr. Z
          April 25, 2017

          Yep! Our favorite is Grade C! We get it in Michigan by the gallon!

  6. Rachel Cunha
    April 23, 2017

    Could you please talk a about Manuka honey? Is it really good for our immune system?

    • Dr. Z
      April 23, 2017

      Oh, Manuka is very healthy for you. Wrapping up an article about this right now actually. All raw honey is superb and Manuka stands out. It’s pretty pricey though, and a lot of people choose to get it locally instead.

  7. Donnis
    April 23, 2017

    What about Monk fruit sugar?

    • Dr. Z
      April 23, 2017

      Not the biggest fan because it’s always mixed with erythitol – an undigestible sugar alcohol.

      • Annette CAinAnnette CainAnnette Cain
        April 23, 2017

        What about Stevia in the raw. Is that okay to use?
        Thank you!

        • Dr. Z
          April 25, 2017

          Nope, has dextrose in it. I’d prefer the ones with inulin…

  8. Fay
    April 23, 2017

    Is Coconut sugar ok for cancer patients?

    • Dr. Z
      April 23, 2017

      Coconut sugar is a tough one because it’s relatively un-researched. It’s pretty new on the market and there are some serious sustainability concerns – regarding the way it’s processed and what happens to the coconut tree.

      When it comes to sugar (in any form), the main concern is the immediate spike in blood glucose levels. Honey and maple syrup are a good balance of nutrition, cancer-fighting properties and medium glycemic index ranking.

  9. Terry
    April 12, 2017

    What about Erythritol? Is it safe?

    • Dr. Z
      April 14, 2017

      Safe? Yes, in small amounts. It’s not natural though and our body cannot properly digest it so many people get slight gas / bloating when they eat it.

      • Fran
        April 26, 2017

        People that are consider diabetic can use Sage or Tupelo Honey from what I had found when researching honey

  10. Patrick sadowski
    October 17, 2016

    Thank you, for the life giving info. You are such a blessing to the body of Christ by your words and love to others and as we both know …it’s not you, but because of Christ who lives in you. Please pray for my family and I. Need to be a better leader in spirit ,soul, and body. Thanks.

    • Customer Support
      October 19, 2016

      Patrick, thank you so much for your encouragement. You and your family will be in our prayers!

  11. Kelly
    October 17, 2016

    I see that stevia is a good choice for people with diabetes. Have you seen research showing small amounts of honey are good for people with diabetes, too?

    • Customer Support
      October 19, 2016


      We don’t have any research specific to honey and diabetes, but I have heard of people using it in small amounts. It’s good for everyone! You just have to watch your sugar levels. 🙂

  12. Julie
    October 16, 2016

    Good info! Two questions: 1) what about coconut sugar, sucanat, etc? 2) should one of these three sweeteners be substituted for agave in a recipe in equal measures?

    • Customer Support
      October 19, 2016


      Our family uses some coconut palm sugar, or liquid stevia when we want something sweet. I believe for agave it would be an equal substitution, but I’m not real familiar with agave.

  13. Margor
    October 16, 2016

    Is coconut sugar bad for someone who won’t give up all sugar? My husband has switched to that mixed with stevia. I know that at least it has a lower glycemic affect…

    • Customer Support
      October 19, 2016

      Yes, coconut palm sugar is a good alternative to many more refined sweeteners. 🙂

  14. Angie
    October 16, 2016

    Dr Z
    I have Crohns and am trying to eliminate sugar. This was very helpful! I was looking for the best healthy alternatives to bake with. Thank you

    • Customer Support
      October 19, 2016

      I’m glad you found some encouragement!


  15. Carolyn
    October 15, 2016

    Thank so much for the information. I haven’t used sugar for a very long while. I’ve tried Stevia from time to time but it’s entirely to sweet and it give me a headache. I used Zylitol for a number of years until it started having the same affect on me. I’m very sensitive to sweet.

    • Dr. Z
      October 15, 2016

      You’re welcome Carolyn. So glad you found this article helpful!

      • Betty Carlson
        April 23, 2017


        Thank you for the information shared about sugars and their issues. I have a son, type 2 diabetic and stage 3 fibrosis which is now a sugar addict, as well as a husband with stage 4 colon cancer. My husband always loved his sweets but was very active and weight or blood sugar was never a problem. I try but can’t change the spots on the leopards. I have banned sugar from the house but can’t follow them all day. This may be a really dumb question, but I never see any remarks about sorghum syrup. I know it relates to cane sugar and may be off the table for us, but being southern I was always reminded of all the good nutritional values contained in this sweet treat. Thank you for your help.

  16. Jessica
    October 14, 2016

    Super helpful information!!
    What do you think/say about using Date paste and or/date sugar as a sweetener?

    • Dr. Z
      October 15, 2016

      Love date paste as a sweetener. It’s just hard to bake with. 🙂

      • Kate
        October 18, 2016

        What are your thoughts about using coconut nectar as a sweetener?

        • Customer Support
          October 19, 2016

          Yum! We do use coconut palm sugar some, and that’s made from coconut nectar!

  17. june
    December 5, 2015

    Excellet….. Very True.

    • Jeri Odell
      October 16, 2016

      What about succant, coconut sugar and coconut syrup?

      • Customer Support
        October 19, 2016

        We use coconut palm sugar some and love it!


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