From decadent chocolate cake And ice cream too warm, sticky Cookies, there are so many delicious desserts to satisfy any sweet tooth. One of my favorite desserts of all time is a sugary banana foster, complete with a bowl of rich vanilla ice cream. The enjoyment has too much of a good thing negative consequencesIndulging in your favorite dessert doesn’t have to come with guilt. Balance is the key here.
In moderation, certain sweets and desserts like dark chocolate can actually benefit your body and mental health. Don’t just take it from me; the proof is in the pudding. Here’s what the research says about eating dessert and why you don’t have to give it up, even if you’re trying to lead a healthy lifestyle.
For more diet tips, see why you should eat more carbs, not less And easy ways to add more fruits and veggies to your diet.
Why dessert should be part of your balanced diet
1. Desserts have nutritional value
Regardless of what your keto friends and family insist on, carbs are necessary nutrients that fuel your body and give it the energy it needs to function throughout the day. Although there are healthier forms of carbohydrates, when done in moderation, they can provide the right fuel.
Chocolate lovers will be pleased to learn that high-cacao desserts, like a bar of dark chocolate, are brimming with nutrients like:
Many desserts also contain fruit, like chocolate-covered strawberries or blueberry pie. Fruits play an important role in keeping us healthy and reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and more. Treat yourself to a fruity treat for another opportunity to add essential vitamins and minerals to your diet.
2. Lowers blood pressure
Although more research needs to be done, existing studies show that dark chocolate has positive effects on heart health.
Dark chocolate contains significant amounts of flavanols, plant chemicals that contribute to the production of nitric oxide. Nitric Oxide has a relaxing effect on the arteries, which promotes better blood flow and lowers blood pressure.
One study reviewed 42 acute or short-term controlled trials involving 1,297 participants with chocolate, cocoa, or flavan-3-ols. After analyzing the data, the researchers noted reduced diastolic and arterial blood pressure.
3. Lowers the risk of heart disease
Here’s one more thing 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% — and it was even greater for those who ate more dark chocolate weekly day ate week.
A separate review also came to similar conclusions. They found that eating 45 grams of chocolate per week reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 11%.
4. Increases happiness and sanity
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that we feel happier after indulging in a treat, but what actually happens in our brain when this happens? Carbohydrate-rich foods stimulate the release of serotonin, which acts as a hormone and promotes feelings of happiness.
Desserts, when prepared in moderation, can give you a positive boost that fruits, vegetables, and other foods can’t always match. And while it may seem a little counterproductive at first, having dessert once a week or so can help keep you on the right eating path.
Limiting yourself to sugary foods during a health rush increases the likelihood that you’ll overconsume when your sweet tooth returns.
5. Promotes a healthier diet
It’s traditional to go through the dessert menu after dinner, but choosing your dessert before you eat is proving beneficial to your overall food choices.
A group of researchers studied the eating habits of faculty members, staff and graduate students in a school cafeteria. Desserts were placed at various points in the food line for four days, and people could choose between fruit or cheesecake.
The results showed that 70% of people who ate the cheesecake first ate 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 had desserts like chocolate, donuts or cookies for breakfast had fewer junk food cravings than those who ate a healthier, low-calorie breakfast .
6. It can improve brain functions
More research is needed to state this as a conclusive benefit of eating dessert, but it’s worth mentioning given the promising studies so far.
Some research has shown that consuming dark chocolate with high amounts of cacao increases blood flow to the brain in younger individuals, a possible explanation for apparent improvements in brain functions such as learning and memory. It can also help older adults who are showing 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 physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions about a medical condition or health goals.