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Everybody loves a bit of sweetness, but it often comes at a cost to our health. This article looks at some healthier alternatives to traditional chocolates, cookies and pastries both on the supermarket shelves and stuff you can make at home.

We all need a little sweetness in our lives, and this extends into the foods that we eat. However, sugar and sugary foods have been blamed for all sorts of evils, from weight gain, to behavioral disorders and immune system dysfunction. It is not just the sugar content that is problematic, but also the fat content of these foods.

For the most part, pastry, cookies, muffins and similar products are made using hydrogenated fats (also known as trans-fatty acids), which have been linked to a host of conditions, including heart disease and cancer.

In addition, sugary treats are often loaded with artificial ingredients like colorants and flavorings as well as caramel, wafer, white flour and allergens like soya, gluten and dairy. What’s more, many products contain an even riskier sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup, a syrup derived from corn by undergoing a process of turning some of its glucose into fructose to achieve a desired level of sweetness. The adverse effects of this fructose-based sugar are similar to those of high carbohydrate intake in general but may be even more pronounced.

Luckily, there are some healthier alternatives to traditional sweets, chocolates, baked goods and cookies. Some can be bought commercially, while others can be prepared easily at home using natural ingredients. Read on to learn how you can satisfy your sweet cravings in the healthiest of ways.

On The Shelf

If you are having a sweet craving, here are some alternatives to the more unhealthy variety of sweet foods. These healthier alternatives, which should still be consumed in moderation though, include:

  • Naturally flavored and colored candies. There are products on the market that use natural fruit and vegetable based colorants and flavorings in their gums and hard candies. Read labels to make sure.
  • Candies sweetened with xylitol or sugar alcohols. Some gums and hard candies, often labeled “diabetic friendly” or “low carb”, are sweetened with the so-called sugar alcohols, which have a lower glycemic index than sugar and are friendlier on the teeth.
  • Seventy percent cocoa or higher dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has a higher cocoa content than traditional milk chocolates and generally contain less milk solids and cocoa butter. Raw chocolates made from unrefined cocoa and sweet.
  • Nougat. Depending on the type of nougat, the ingredients are generally limited to egg, white, sugar, honey and nuts making nougat a relatively natural treat.
  • Halva. This Mediterranean treat is generally made with tahini, a sesame seed butter, nuts and honey. Although it is high in sugar and fat, it is a relatively natural treat.
  • Sorbet and Frozen Yogurt. As an alternative to fat-laden ice-creams, certain varieties of sorbets and frozen yogurts offer a good lower fat alternative. Top plain frozen yogurt with crushed nuts and raw muesli for a delicious healthy treat.
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