When you're craving something to satisfy your sweet tooth, your first instinct might be to choose a cookie, piece of candy or chocolate bar, but there are healthier options. Many foods are naturally sweet, without the potentially harmful sugar content that contributes to weight gain and tooth decay. Many of these foods require no preparation.
Many berries, such as blueberries, strawberries and blackberries, offer a sweet taste with a low amount of natural sugars. Strawberries, for example, contain 5.1 g of sugar per 3.5-oz. serving compared to 73 g for 3.5 oz. of dates. Berries also low in fat and calories, with 45 to 81 calories and approximately 0.5 g of fat per cup. You’ll increase your vitamin C intake if you include berries in your diet too; strawberries are an excellent source, with 149 percent of the daily recommended intake if you adhere to a 2,000-calorie diet, but blueberries -- with the lowest amount of this vitamin -- supply 23 percent of what you need in a day. A serving of these berries also offers up a range of other vitamins and minerals.
While honey contains glucose and fructose, the same sugars in granulated sugar, honey is healthier for you because of the structure of those components. Honey is less able to convert to fat, and it contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, calcium, phosphorus and selenium. Honey serves up antioxidants as well, which can protect you from a range of diseases and medical conditions. Tualang honey, for example, demonstrates protective benefits against breast and cervical cancer that could relate to antioxidants, according to research published in the December 2010 issue of “Food and Chemical Toxicology.” Evidence in the August-September 2010 issue of the same journal indicates that Cuban honeys are also high in antioxidants.
Citrus fruit, such as oranges, tangerines and pummelos, serve as a sweet treat. These fruits are high in natural sugars, although grapefruit contains little of it -- and, arguably, grapefruit does not qualify as a sweet unless you add sugar or honey. Sweet citrus ranges in calories from 40 to 53 calories and less than 1 g of fat per 3-oz. fruit. You’ll take in vitamin C, calcium and potassium from citrus fruit as well. Eating citrus while pregnant may contribute toward skin health in infants. Researchers studied the diet of pregnant study participants, and found that a diet high in citrus and other nutritious foods correlates to a lower incidence of eczema in children; the study was published the June 2010 issue of the journal “Allergy.”
You might not immediately reach for a vegetable to satisfy your craving for sweets, but winter squash offers a sweet taste and high nutritional value, which makes this a healthy choice. Winter squash, such as acorn, butternut and kobacha squash, generally requires cooking -- baking, roasting or boiling. One cup contains 30 to 82 calories, trace amounts of fat and very little natural sugar. You also consume up to 500 percent of the vitamin A you need each day, which helps support eye health.