Many people think that to kick the sugar habit, then you simply need will power. But the elements of sugar make it a difficult habit to break. Sugar can wreak havoc on the body, cause obesity and affect metabolism and hormone balance. It can also become addictive, releasing dopamine in the brain, a hormone associated with pleasure. This can cause excessive sugar intake and addiction.

For many African Americans, consuming too much sugar can be not only unhealthy but deadly. Luckily, there are alternatives to eating sugar. Whether you need a sweetener for cooking, baking or adding a touch of sweetness to your morning coffee, try these sugar substitutes.

  • Honey, Maple syrup, coconut sugar, molasses: These are naturally-derived sugars. Although they have more nutrients than regular sugar, they are still metabolized in the body the same way, so be mindful of your intake of these sugars.
  • Monk fruit sweetener: Monk fruit is a small round fruit grown in Southeast Asia. It’s zero calories and is 100–250 times sweeter than sugar.
  • Stevia: a plant-based, zero calorie sugar substitute that is derived from a South American plant. Many people use stevia as a sweetener in teas, coffees and baked goods. A word of caution: stevia does have a bitter aftertaste and a little goes a long way, so add slowly to taste.

Watch out for these popular sugar alternatives. Although they are not sugar, they aren’t necessarily good for you.

  • Aspartame (Equal and Nutrasweet): Aspartame consists of the amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine and is about 200 times sweeter than sugar.
  • Saccahrin (Sweet ‘N Low and Sweet Twin): Saccharin is found in many processed foods and drinks, including soda, chewing gum and processed foods.
  • Sucralose (Splenda): Sucralose is another no-calorie sugar that is about 600 times sweeter than sugar.
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