Too much sugar in your diet can lead to excess weight gain, obesity and other health problems. Excess sugar is converted into fat and stored around your abdomen and other areas. However, you don't need to avoid dessert to limit sugar in your daily diet. Low-sugar dessert options and techniques to sweeten cakes, cookies and other desserts with less sugar can help you reduce your sugar intake.
If you're baking cakes, cupcakes or muffins for dessert at home, you can replace all or some of the sugar with purees made from whole fresh or frozen fruit. The health magazine, "Today's Dietitian," notes that fruits contain natural sugars that are broken down into fructose and glucose molecules in your body. Although these natural sugars have a similar effect in your body as table sugar, the added fiber, vitamins and minerals in fruit make them a healthier choice. You can add cooked and pureed apples, pureed berries or mashed bananas to your desserts to add sweetness and a soft texture. Fruit that is more ripe will have a sweeter taste. As water content of fruits varies, you may need to decrease the amount of liquids added to your dessert recipes depending on which kind of fruit you use.
Spices are another way to sweeten desserts with little or no sugar. The site "EatingWell" recommends adding spices and extracts such as vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg to your desserts instead of a sprinkle of sugar. Coconut milk is naturally sweet and can be combined with tropical fruit and chopped nuts to make a low-sugar dessert. In baked desserts, such as cakes, cookies and muffins, replace part of the sugar with ground cinnamon and nutmeg to add flavor and natural sweetness. Spices are also rich in antioxidant compounds, which will add a nutritious kick to your dessert.
MayoClinic.com recommends using natural sweeteners in desserts and other foods instead of refined table sugar. These include honey, maple syrup, molasses and fruit juices. Like fruit purees, they also contain essential vitamins and minerals that are not found in refined sugar. However, these sweeteners are still broken down into glucose and fructose sugar molecules in your body and should not be consumed in excess. They will also add a distinct flavor to your dessert. Use these natural sweeteners in pies, cakes, cookies and other desserts. As they are in liquid form, you may need to decrease water and other liquids to prevent making your dessert too moist.
Ice cream is a popular dessert that comes in a wide variety of flavors and is delicious on its own or combined with fruit or hot brownies and cake. However, it also contains large amounts of sugar. Frozen, pureed fruit and frozen yogurt are healthier alternatives to ice cream. Blend a frozen banana until it forms a smooth puree and add nuts and cinnamon for a dessert free of table sugar. You can also blend plain, frozen yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit for a healthier dessert option.
Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.