Sweets and desserts aren’t as bad for your health as you think
One of my all-time favorite desserts is Foster’s warm, sugary bananas, complete with a bowl of rich vanilla ice cream. While indulging in too much of a good thing has negative consequences, indulging in your favorite sweet doesn’t necessarily have to come with a side of guilt. Balance is key here.
When made in moderation, some sweets and desserts like dark chocolate can actually benefit your physical and mental health. Don’t just take it from me; the proof is in the pudding. Here’s what the research says about eating sweets and why you shouldn’t deprive yourself of them, even if you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle.
For more nutrition tips, learn why you should eat more carbs, not less AND easy ways to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet.
6 reasons why your balanced diet should include dessert
1. Desserts have nutritional value
No matter what your keto friends and family insist, carbohydrates are necessary nutrients that fuel your body and give it the energy it needs to function throughout the day. While there are healthier forms of carbohydrates, it can provide adequate fuel when done in moderation.
Chocolate lovers will be happy to know that high-cacao sweets, like a bar of dark chocolate, are packed with nutrients, such as:
Many desserts also incorporate fruit, such as chocolate covered strawberries or blueberry pie. Fruit plays an important role in keeping us healthy and reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and more. Indulge in a fruity treat for another opportunity to incorporate essential vitamins and minerals into your diet.
2. Lowers blood pressure
While more research is needed, existing studies show that dark chocolate positively affects heart health.
Dark chocolate contains significant amounts of flavanols, plant chemicals that help produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has a relaxing effect on the arteries, which promotes better blood circulation and lowers blood pressure.
One study examined 42 acute or short-term controlled trials with 1,297 participants involving chocolate, cocoa, or flavan-3-ols. After analyzing the data, the researchers saw a reduction in diastolic and arterial blood pressure.
3. Reduces the risk of heart disease
Here’s another one for the chocolate people: In the same review mentioned above, researchers found that eating dark chocolate three times a week reduced the risk of heart disease by 9 percent — and it was even greater for those who ate the most dark chocolate in one. week.
A separate review also concluded similar findings. They found that eating 45 grams of chocolate a week reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 11%.
4. Increase happiness and mental health
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that we feel happier after indulging in a tasty treat, but what’s actually going on in our brains when that happens? Carbohydrate-rich foods stimulate the release of serotonin, which acts like a hormone and helps promote feelings of happiness.
When made in moderation, desserts can give you a positive boost that fruits, vegetables, and other foods can’t always measure up to. And while it might seem a bit counterproductive at first, enjoying dessert once a week or so can help keep you on track for healthy eating.
Restricting yourself from sugary foods cold turkey during a healthy kick makes you more likely to overconsume when your sweet tooth returns.
5. Promotes healthier eating
It’s traditional to peruse the dessert menu after dinner, but choosing dessert before eating it proves to be beneficial in overall food choices.
A group of researchers studied the eating habits of faculty members, staff and graduate students at a school cafeteria. Dessert options were placed at different points on the food line for four days, and people could choose between fruit or cheesecake.
The results showed that 70 percent of people who ate cheesecake first continued to eat a healthier main course and ate 250 fewer calories overall. Only about 33% of people who chose fruit first went on to choose a healthy main course.
Another study published in Science Direct showed the benefits of strategically timed treats after volunteers who ate sweet treats like chocolate, donuts or cookies with their breakfast experienced fewer junk food cravings than people who ate a healthier breakfast. and low-calorie.
6. May improve brain function
More research is needed to call this a definite benefit of eating desserts, but it’s worth mentioning considering the promising studies so far.
Some research has shown that eating dark chocolate with high amounts of cocoa increases blood flow to the brain in younger individuals, a possible explanation for apparent improvements in brain functions such as learning and memory retention. It can also help older adults who show signs of memory impairment.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.