Many of the latest health food crazes and diets involve cutting out refined sugars, but that doesn't mean that you have to ruin your health goals every time you enjoy a sweet treat. There are many healthy sweetener substitutes for refined sugars that occur naturally and contain nutritional benefits. Here are six of the best substitutes to cure your sugar cravings. 

1. Raw Honey

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Stephanie Lee

Honey is one of the most popular natural sweeteners, but many people don't know that choosing raw honey is an even better substitute. Raw honey contains zinc, iron, and other beneficial qualities that promote health while also sweetening your food. It also has many helpful uses besides being a sweetener, so investing in a jar is always worthwhile. 

2. Maple Syrup

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Claire Webster

Maple syrup is another common healthy substitute for refined sugar. Honey and maple syrup have many of the same uses in cooking, but some people will opt for maple syrup instead of honey because it's vegan. A key trick for using maple syrup as a healthy sweetener substitute is making sure you get pure maple syrup rather than many kinds that are loaded with extra added sugar. 

3. Dates

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Kristine Mahan

While dates might not be the most aesthetically pleasing substitute, they're so sweet and tasty. They also have lots of benefits such as reducing blood pressure and promoting heart health. Dates are great healthy sweetener substitute for refined sugar, but they're just as yummy eaten as a snack. Having a date with a spoonful of peanut butter is a delicious and healthy dessert

4. Coconut Sugar

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Christine Chang

Coconut sugar is one of my favorite sweeteners because it's so diverse. Many recipes call for coconut sugar as a replacement for brown sugar, so it's easy to use for many of your go-to treats. While regular granulated sugar doesn't contain any vital nutrients, coconut sugar is made from the coconut palm and maintains many of the key nutrients that the coconut palm has to offer. A great way to use coconut sugar is in warm cookies or gooey brownies.

5. Erythritol 

coffee, sweet, tea, syrup
Meredith Davin

While this name sounds scary and exotic, it's very frequently used and is an FDA-approved sugar alcohol that looks and tastes like sugar. The best part of this sweetener is that it's low in calories, so you can find it in many of your favorite low-cal treats such as Halo Top. This is a great healthy substitute for refined sugars because not only does it reduce your sugar intake, but it also reduces the calorie consumption. 

6. Fruit 

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Shelby Cohron

Fruit is a great natural sweetener that many people forget about. This is the prime healthy substitute for refined sugars because it's just fruit, which means no added sweetener at all. This substitute works best for recipes that already include fruits, but adding pureed bananas or figs in place of sugar works for many baked goods (if you're okay with a new, fruity taste). A great way to implement this substitute is in dishes such as banana bread. Adding more fruit than the recipe calls for and cutting out the sugar will sweeten your food and boost the flavor. 

So for all you sugar lovers out there, you don't have to give up your diet to have dessert. All of these are easy to use and are probably in more things you already eat than you realize. Plus, if you use natural sweeteners, you don't feel as guilty after eating an entire loaf of banana bread in one sitting, which is a reason in and of itself to give these alternative sweeteners a try.