11 Ways to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth Without Overindulging in Sugar
June 24, 2021
Americans on average consume way more sugar than we realize – and it’s not our fault. Really. Well, we’re responsible for what we put in our mouths, but a lot of the added sugar in a typical American diet is “lurking” in products such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, protein bars, yogurt, granola, cocktails, pasta sauce and those fancy lattes (you know what we’re talking about). Read the nutrition labels. You may be in for an unpleasant surprise.
Our bodies don’t need sugar to function properly. Added sugars fill us with a lot of unneeded calories and absolutely zero nutrients. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories of a sugar a day (about six teaspoons) for most women and 150 calories (about nine teaspoons) for most men.
The average American adult eats and drinks an average of 77 grams of sugar per day, more than THREE TIMES the recommended amount for women, according to the AHA. This adds up to around 60 pounds of added sugar annually – the weight of seven gallons of milk! The data is even more frightening for children. American kids eat and drink 81 grams of sugar per day, equaling over 65 pounds of added sugar per year.
Why do humans crave sugar? The taste of sweetness releases endorphins and serotonins in our body that make us feel happy and content. We’ve all experienced the “sugar high.” And we all know what happens soon after: The crash and burn. This, of course, is no way to treat our body and is a major reason why we have an obesity epidemic in this country. And why our hearts are giving out at increasing rates. Here are 11 simple ways to combat the sugar cravings and improve your heart health:
1. Coconut Whipped Cream with Strawberries
Ask a dentist! Here's a suggestion from one of them at Total Dental Care. Coconuts are ideal bacteria killers that can limit the amount of plaque buildup, and strawberries help scrub away plaque as well. Who knew! Consider substituting coconut whipped cream for dairy whipped cream, as it low in sugar and high in the healthy fats you need.
2. Strawberry Banana Milkshake
The Mayo Clinic Diet recommends cutting sweets to 75 calories a day. In addition to healthy sweet alternatives like small amounts of dark chocolate, smoothies or low-fat frozen yogurt, that famed institution recommends enjoying a Strawberry Banana Milkshake. For two people, get your blender and combine frozen strawberries, banana, soy milk and frozen yogurt. Blend until smooth. Pour into frosty glasses and garnish with fresh strawberry slices.
3. Grab an Apple (or Your Favorite Fruit)
We’ve all heard the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” For sugar lovers, let’s tweak it a bit to “an apple a day keeps the cravings at bay.” Eating an apple – or any fruit – is an excellent way to stave off the desire for sweetness. You’ll get natural (not ADDED) sugar and, at the same time, extra fiber and nutrients. And unlike that donut or piece of cake, you won’t have the sugar crash later. Bananas, strawberries, peaches and melons work, too!
4. Put That Candy Bar Down! Eat a Square of Dark Chocolate
Sometimes, a Snickers bar sounds just too good to pass up. But simply substituting that full-sized candy bar with a small piece of dark chocolate will help quell the craving. Dark chocolate contains more than 70 percent cocoa. More importantly, it is loaded with polyphenols, a healthy plant compound. Some studies suggest that heart-healthy polyphenols act as an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. You won’t get that from a Three Musketeers!
5. Gummies: Delicious, Fruity and Loaded with Goodness
Here’s a radical idea: Satisfy your sweetness craving with two Havasu Nutrition Elderberry Gummies. Our special formula contains naturally occurring free radical defenders called anthocyanins. Elderberry is super-immune fruit that delivers both antioxidant and immune support. It’s an all-natural yummy gummy that is as fun to take as it is healthy. Don’t believe us? Here is what one of our happy customers told us: "OMG I am absolutely blown away by the flavor of these!!! They taste like Wendy’s berry lemonade!!” (By the way, our gummies are sugar-free. That Wendy’s concoction? 54 grams of sugar!)
6. Greek Yogurt
Start with your favorite plain and non-sugar yogurt, and then gradually mix in whatever you consider a safe mix so it’s a good alternative. Nuts, granola, fruit, a dab of honey . . . magic!
7. Dates Rolled in Coconut
Yes, dates have a lot of natural sugar content . . . but these delicious morsels are jam-packed with nutrients and plenty of benefits when used in moderation. These can satisfy your sweet tooth while still providing essential nutrients like vitamin B-6 and iron. Try rolling them in coconut shavings, or adding them to smoothies, or chopping and tossing them into your salad.
8. Chew on Some Gum
Try chewing a stick of gum, preferably the sugarless variety. According to a study, chewing gum for at least 45 minutes “significantly suppressed rated hunger, appetite and cravings for snacks and promoted fullness.” Just watch out for those crowns and fillings.
9. Fruit Popsicles for You and the Kids
Popsicles aren’t just for your children. If you are one of those people who just can’t live without a dessert from the freezer, try fruit popsicles. There are some healthy options in many grocery stores or you can make them yourself at home. All you need is a popsicle mold and your favorite fruit juice. Freeze and enjoy instead of the fat-filled ice cream.
10. Sprinkle on Cinnamon
Some spices can play subtle tricks on your brain into thinking you’re eating sugar. Cinnamon is one of those spices. One study suggests that cinnamon may reduce blood glucose levels and minimize insulin spikes. Sprinkle it on oatmeal, roasted veggies, toast and other foods.
11. Frozen Grapes
We love this one. It’s so simple and yet so delicious. Added bonus: It’s health food! Arrange a single layer of grapes on a cooking sheet and freeze for a few hours. Pop one in your mouth and get ready for a burst of sweet, fruity, natural sweetness. Your body will get a healthy dose of antioxidants and other polyphenols that can contribute to improved heart function. Your kids (well, most kids) will love them.
Eat Regularly and Mindfully
OK, this is not a food substitution. But consider it a friendly reminder. Our body craves sugar usually because it is seeking quick energy. And nothing delivers quick energy better than sugar. However, if we eat a little throughout the day our blood sugar stabilizes. If you wait until your stomach growls, your body will crave a quick source of energy and you’ll hit the vending machine for a sugary snack or raid the cookie jar or, well, you know. Ghrelin is known as the “hunger hormone.” A study published in the Journal of Nutrition revealed that those who ate at least three times a day had lower levels of ghrelin, which in turn made them feel less hungry.
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