With Halloween and the holiday season just around the corner, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the sweet treats the accompany all the celebrations! Though enjoying a decadent dessert every once in a while isn’t awful, it is great to know what consuming too much refined sugar does to our bodies, and some healthy alternatives that are just as delicious!

While our bodies need glucose and fructose (naturally occurring sugars) on a daily basis to regulate our cellular metabolic processes, eating excess sugar (added concentrated sugars such as high fructose corn syrup) only impacts the body negatively. Consuming too much sugar puts one at risk for developing Type II diabetes and obesity, which can also lead to other health problems as well. When there is excess sugar in the body, the pancreas and the kidneys are left to filter what the body does not need, which over time creates chronic stress on those organs. High blood sugar can also lead to insulin resistance, fatty liver disease, hypertension, and kidney disease.

So, how can we all avoid excess sugar intake, but still have a great time during the holiday season? First, opting for a fruit based dessert can greatly increase the nutritional value of the dessert, and also lower sugar intake as well (Check these out!). However, when baking, opt for using the ‘less bad sugars’, such as coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, and molasses. Coconut sugar is slightly lower on the glycemic index than table sugar which is great for people wanting to monitor their blood sugar. In addition, each one of these contains unique nutritional value that you may not obtain from eating table sugar. For example, maple syrup contains antioxidants, and coconut sugar contains more iron, zinc, calcium and potassium. Another great substitute for table sugar is stevia, which contains zero calories and has no known links to weight gain.

It is important to still moderate your intake of anything sweet and maintain a healthy level of physical activity. Any amount of excess sugar can lead to weight gain and serious illness over time. As a guideline, WebMD states that women should aim to consume 6 teaspoons of sugar a day, while men should aim for 9 teaspoons. So when you are preparing for your holiday get together, consider opting for some alterative ingredients and save yourself the worry!

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Written By: Malila Hollow