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If you want the pounds to drop away, there is one category of food that you must totally avoid altogether - sugar. Indulging in processed sugar can send you on a rocket to becoming overweight and potentially cause diabetes and other health conditions. For those of you who want can't live without sugar, below are some safe alternatives.

Maple Syrup

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Magdalena Kucova/Shutterstock

Maple Syrup

Everything you need to create a health-conscious breakfast or meal. This syrup in natural form contains more than 50 types of nutrients and antioxidants, while still giving you the sweet taste you love.

You don't have to use maple syrup on just your pancakes either. You can use it to sweeten your popcorn bowl, add it to an old-fashioned drink, or put it over your veggies before you roast them.

Cinnamon

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Cinnamon

When it comes to the most important meal of the day, some flavors are decidedly better than others - like cinnamon. You can spice up anything with this ingredient (get it, cause it's a spice?).

Don't use this spice on just your regular ol' Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. Also feel free to add a little spice to your french toast, desserts, and more!

Tea Leaves

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Tea Leaves

Lay aside that tub of sugar whenever you have a drink. Instead, use tea leaves to add an extra nutritional kick.

Tea is definitely more natural than its coffee and soda counterpart and gets the job done in terms of giving you energy. Don't use sugar to keep you up all night, instead drink green tea, which has about 30-50mg of caffeine compared to 23-37mg in soda and 102-200mg in coffee.

Apple Sauce

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Apple Sauce

There you have it - a good alternative to white sugar for your favorite batch of oatmeal cookies. The natural sweetness and flavor is perfect for an after-dinner treat as well.

Cranberries

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Cranberries

This fruit is packed with nutrients that are not found in sugar. A great way to put antioxidants on your breakfast menu.

Whether your try cranberry juiced or in your favorite dessert, you can't go wrong with this berry.

Erythritol

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Erythritol

Although the name sounds scary, this "special" sugar is FDA safe and contains 0.2 calories. It comes from a plant and certainly a great substitute for refined sugar.

Pureed Banana

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Pureed Banana

Extra ripe bananas that are pureed are a great way to prepare healthy sugar fast. This alternative is packed with a laundry list of potassium, fiber and minerals.

Rapadura
Rapadura

Perfect for coffee and tea and convenient for any grab-and-go treat, this sweetener made of sugar cane is rich in vitamins and minerals that refined sugar lacks.

Processed Dates
Processed Dates

Perfect addition for homemade granola bars or brownie batter. If you love the taste of dates, you will love the slenderized version of granola.

Coconut Sugar

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Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is a generous source of minerals for lowering harmful cholesterol. Get tropical and use it in a fruit smoothie.

Sucanat

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Sucanat

This natural sweetener made from organic cane sugar. It is an excellent provider of important minerals and some of the nutrients that are lost when the cane is processed.

Barley Malt Extract

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Barley Malt Extract

This sweet syrup holds much of the protein and emerges as a nutritious, sugar-free substitute for a fruit pie.

You don't have to go to your local brewery to get this extract either. There's a ton of options in your local grocery store.

Lime
Lime

This one supplies nutrients so that your body gets a host of vitamins and antioxidants critical to maintaining a healthy skin texture.

There are a ton of recipes that use this sour fruit, but our favorite has to be a nice key lime pie.

Grapefruit
Grapefruit

An excellent way to help control the urge to eat sugar is to start your day with a hearty bowl of grapefruit enhanced with other dried fruits. Add it to salads for its natural sweetness as well as for the good things it furnishes.

Reb A
Reb A

If you find yourself weary of plain oatmeal, it might be time to try something new with it. This natural extract from stevia plant helps sweeten your food and is considered FDA safe.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Natural cocoa powder provides a balanced mix of nutrients that support brain function. Use it with skim milk for a warm winter treat to snuggle by the fireplace with your loved ones.

Apricot Puree
Apricot Puree

Another natural sugar substitute in pure form. With fiber, iron and Vitamin C, apricot puree provides a near-balanced snack, all in one convenient bowl.

Milk

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Milk

Milk has natural sugar in it and adds a touch of sweetness to your morning coffee. If your barista asks you if you want sugar and cream, make sure to answer just cream to save yourself a few calories.

Frozen Juice Concentrate

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Frozen Juice Concentrate

There is a powerful sense of well-being coming from juice concentrate made of apple, grapes and strawberries. With additional antioxidants, this is a sweet solution for any dessert.

Brown Rice Syrup
Brown Rice Syrup

Made of brown rice, this syrup can be practically used as a staple instead of sugar. It can cut the unhealthy ingredients considerably in the recipe while enhancing the flavor.

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