Tier 1 (Really Bad) Sweeteners:
These are completely manufactured, so they’re foreign substances to our bodies.
Tier 2 (Pretty Bad) Sweeteners:
These may have a technically natural origin, but they’re very highly processed, so the end product bears little resemblance to the original food. While I might not be quite “zero tolerance” on these, they aren’t far behind.
Tier 3 (Sort of Bad) Sweeteners:
These are non-nutritive and pretty refined, so they shouldn’t be everyday foods. However, they are real, so they aren’t as downright terrible as some of the other options.
By the way, brown sugar is not less refined than white sugar. It is equally refined and bleached, then has a very small amount of the molasses put back in. It’s no more nutritious. Raw sugar is less refined and, although not great for your blood sugar, does contain some trace nutrients. It may be substituted 1:1 for white sugar. It can also be whirred in a blender to create a confectioner’s-style (powdered) sugar.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it contains most of the common options. All sweeteners should be used in moderation, but all of these are real foods, minimally processed. That means our bodies know what to do with them – and most of them do offer some nutritional value.