Consuming high amounts of refined sugar can contribute to various health risks, including an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and weight gain. According to the American Heart Association, the amount of sugar you eat should not exceed half of your daily calorie allowance -- this is around 100 calories (about six teaspoons) per day for women and 150 calories (about nine teaspoons) for men. And yet, Americans still consume more sugar than any other country in the world. A 2011 study determined that the daily sugar intake for Americans in 2008 was about 76.7 grams, which converts to 19 teaspoons and 306 calories.
But kicking your sugar habit doesn't have to be difficult. If you've got a sweet tooth that can't be tamed, we've got some of the best sugar-free recipes for you to whip together when that sugar craving hits.
With their mild flavor and high-fat content, avocados make the perfect substitute for a creamy and delicious chocolate mousse. Avocados are a nutritional powerhouse -- they're cholesterol-free, a great source of fiber and filled with vitamins and minerals. They also have the least amount of sugar of any fruit and are the only fruits that are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. For this recipe, ditch the chocolate chips and use high-quality cocoa powder instead. But you do decide to use the chips, make sure they are at least 60 percent dark chocolate. If your sweet tooth is still not satisfied, add a bit of stevia. With only 148 calories per serving, this avo-chocolate mousse is a dessert so decadent you won't believe it's actually good for you.
With its chickpea base, this no-bake recipe turns a classic dessert into a nutritious treat. Start by draining a can of chickpeas, drying and rubbing off the outer skins before mixing with the other ingredients. Though it may seem tedious, removing the skins will make a huge difference in texture, resulting in a smoother "dough." While the peanut butter masks any bean-like flavor from the garbanzos, the addition of the chia seeds ensures that the excess water is soaked up from the chickpeas, giving it a perfect cookie dough texture.
This rustic apple tart forgoes the sugar and uses applesauce, lemon juice and sweet spices to give this traditional dessert a delicious flavor of its own. The perfect addition to a summer picnic or Thanksgiving spread, this tart takes less than an hour to make. Start by removing the skins of about five medium-sized apples and thinly slice them before mixing in applesauce, lemon juice and spices. After it bakes, top it with a dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt for a rich and creamy sugar-free topping.
Say goodbye to sleeves of prepackaged cookies -- we've got a recipe that requires only two ingredients and takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish. All you need is a couple of ripe bananas and a cup of oats. For a crunchier texture, we recommend using rolled oats; however, quick oats also work in a pinch. Scoop about a tablespoon of batter per cookie, dropping onto a parchment-lined pan before placing into a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes. Though they are called two-ingredient cookies, feel free to mix in whatever ingredients you've got in the pantry -- nuts, dark chocolate chips and dried fruits give just enough oomph to satisfy those sweet tooth cravings.
A fudgy and decadent sugar-free treat, these brownies contain a mysterious ingredient: black beans. You get none of the bean flavor, but all of the benefits including iron, fiber and protein. Coupled with the heart-healthy fats in the coconut oil and the antioxidants in cocoa powder, this recipe is about as close to a healthy dessert as you can get. For sweetness, you can choose to sub in low-fat maple syrup, honey or agave. It's all based on your preference, though if it's still not sweet enough throw in a bit of stevia.
The perfect versatile treat, these raw mini mascarpone berry cakes are entirely grain- and refined sugar-free! The crust -- made from dates, coconut oil and flour, vanilla extract and salt -- makes up the bottom layer of this sweet trifecta. For the filling, mix mascarpone, cream cheese, maple syrup, berries and vanilla, placing on top of the crust before freezing overnight. These little cakes work well as a make-ahead dessert -- just top with fresh berries before serving to make it a beautiful tri-layer treat.
It doesn't need to be the peach season to enjoy your favorite summer fruit. With a bag of frozen peaches and a bit of coconut milk, you've got yourself an easy dairy-free dessert that can be enjoyed year-round. Just mix the frozen peaches with coconut milk in a food processor, waiting until a smooth "soft-serve" texture forms. Serve immediately or keep frozen and enjoy later. If you're not a fan of peaches, try any other variety of frozen fruit, such as raspberries, strawberries or mangoes. This ice cream may be low in sugar, but it doesn't disappoint in taste.