Sugar gets a bad reputation and indulging in too much of it definitely has negative consequences, but dessert doesn’t have to come with a side of guilt. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll be glad to know that certain sweets and desserts can actually benefit your physical and mental health. Moderation is the key, but you don’t have to deprive yourself.
These are some science-backed reasons to include dessert in your balanced diet:
- Desserts have nutritional value - Chocolate lovers, listen up. Desserts high in cocoa content, like dark chocolate, are loaded with nutrients including fiber, iron, copper, magnesium and antioxidants.
- Lower blood pressure - Studies show dark chocolate positively affects heart health, as it contains high amounts of flavanols, plant chemicals that help with production of nitric oxide, which has a relaxing effect on the arteries that promotes better blood circulation and lowers blood pressure.
- Lower risk of heart disease - Research also shows that eating dark chocolate three times a week lowers the risk of heart disease by 9%, and it went down even more for those who ate more dark chocolate in a week.
- Promotes healthier eating - Choosing your dessert before dinner could help you make better food choices. In one study, those who picked their cheesecake beforehand went on to eat a healthier main dish and consume 250 fewer calories overall.
- Boosts happiness and mental health - We feel happier after we treat ourselves to something tasty, but there’s something happening in the brain to cause that. Foods high in carbs stimulate the release of serotonin, which promotes feelings of happiness.
- It may even improve brain functions - While more research is needed to be sure, some research has shown that eating dark chocolate with high amounts of cocoa increases blood flow to the brain in younger people. And it may also help older adults who show signs of memory problems.