As a Registered Dietitian, added sugar is one of the main ingredients I advise clients to remove from their diet. Of course, the next question clients will often ask is how they can still satisfy their sweet tooth. Below, I'm sharing four fantastic sugar replacements you can use today.

Dates

Dates offer an overwhelming natural sweetness. Replacing refined sugar and artificial sweeteners with this delicious fruit will not only reduce inflammation caused by sugar, but also increase the nutrient content of your diet! They contain potassium, magnesium, and fiber that can aid in proper digestion.  Consuming dates can also aid in heart health, energy production, and muscle contraction.

In the Kitchen: Add one date to a veggie smoothie for a sweet kick; make a date paste to spread on whole grain toast; or try the recipe below:

Avocado Date Zoodles

Local Honey

Honey has been used as a healthy sweetener for ages and is known for its antioxidant content. Antioxidants can help fend off illness and protect from damage-causing free radicals. Although honey is a healthier sweetener choice, it is still mostly comprised of sugar and water so use it in moderation and choose darker, local varieties for more health benefits!

In the Kitchen: If you're needing a little sweetness in your tea or coffee, add a teaspoon of local honey. Looking a delicious appetizer? Top granny smith apple slices with Gouda cheese and drizzle with honey!

Stevia

Stevia is a globally utilized, zero-calorie, natural sweetener deriving from the South American stevia plant. Stevia can help reduce daily sugar consumption and has been recognized as generally safe (GRAS) by the FDA. Stevia is much sweeter than sugar, so keep in mind that a little goes a long way.  Many different Stevia varieties exist but my two favorite are the raw plant leaves or SweetLeaf Stevia packets.

In the Kitchen: Replace sugar with stevia using the conversion of  ¼ teaspoon of stevia to 1 tablespoon of sugar; steep stevia leaves in herbal teas to sweeten; substitute stevia for simple syrup to make your cocktails skinny!

Fruit

Never underestimate the natural sweetness of fruit! Not only can it satiate your sweet tooth, but fruit also contains many nutrients and health benefits, like fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Before you reach for a sweet treat, try reaching for fresh fruit first.

In the Kitchen: Make your own fruit preserves instead of conventional jams; use fruit purees instead of syrups; or make banana "nice" cream for dessert! Try this recipe:

Mint Banana "Nice" Cream

Elise Deming is a registered Retail Dietitian Nutritionist. For more nutrition tips and recipes, visit her Instagram account @eat.with.elise.

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