Sweets are meant to be a treat, but they are harmful to the body even when consumed in moderation. Often containing no nutrients, they are high in added sugar, artificial ingredients and unhealthy fats.

Consuming too much of added sugar results in weight gain and serious health issues, including diabetes, heart attacks, anemia, dental problems and reduced immunity. Added sugar is harmful because of the presence of sucrose and high fructose both of which have negative metabolic effects when consumed in large amounts.

Does the same apply to fruits as they also contain fructose?

Fructose is only harmful if consumed in large amounts and it is almost impossible to have excess fructose by eating fruits.

Fruits are loaded with important nutrients, including fibre, vitamins, minerals and various antioxidants and phytonutrients, water and have significant chewing resistance. They take a while to eat and digest. So the fructose hits the liver slowly. The human body is well adapted to the small amount of fructose found in nature and it can easily take care of it.

Multiple observational studies have shown that people who eat more natural sugar have a lower risk of many diseases as compared to those consuming added sugar. According to a study conducted by the American Heart Association, added sugar intake should be limited to no more than half of your discretionary allowance – six teaspoons a day for women and nine teaspoons a day for men.

There are many naturally sweet alternatives that you can eat without consuming any added sugar:

Berries: Berries are the healthiest way to sweeten smoothies, tarts, pies and muffins without adding any extra sugar. You can also puree frozen berries to make a sugar-free sorbet to add in your sweet treats in off season. Berries are low-glycemic and incredibly heart-healthy.

Banana: Pureed ripe banana enhance the delicious flavour of cake recipes. Use it in baking as a substitute for sugar. It will act as a better binder and give a better texture.

Dates, raisins and figs: You can make sweet energy bars by adding dates, figs and raisins to brown rice syrup and evaporated cane juice. These dried fruits are great in taste and good for health.

Apple: Eat apples in different ways to satiate your sweet craving. Simply peel them off, cut in wedge shapes or cubes and bake till golden brown. These warm, cinnamon-spiked apple chunks taste like dessert without adding any sugar. You can add little butter or coconut oil while baking.

Greek yogurt: Consume good quality natural Greek yogurt loaded with calcium and probiotics and having no added sugar, artificial ingredients or thickeners. It is incredibly healthy and so versatile. Eat it as a sweet snack or add it to your smoothies or you can even use it as a healthy side dip with your meals. You can chop your favourite fruits in it and have it as a sweet snack or add it to your porridge or muesli.

Healthy fruit breads: There are loads of healthy fruit bread available on high-quality bakery shops. Sweeten them more by adding toppings of fresh or dried fruits or honey instead so that they taste fab and can actually become a healthy sweet treat.

Cereals and honey: Make your own bowl of cereals including oats, nuts, chia seeds, cacao and fat-free milk. Sweeten it if you need to with honey after giving a boil. If you want to have it crunchy, bake oats and nuts, just mix all ingredients except milk and top with honey.

Make a healthy living goal to cut back on the amount of added sugar you consume every day. More healthy fruity sweet treats serve as a simple way to get more fruits in your system while still being able to enjoy a delicious sweet treat. They’re great for satisfying sugar cravings. Sweetness should be all natural.