Cakes, cookies, candies, puddings and pies. Oh my.
Who doesn’t love dessert? I think it’s safe to say we all do… and have for generations upon generations.
If we didn’t think so highly of it, the ancient Mesopotamians wouldn’t have chosen to honor their gods with it… it wouldn’t have been Marie Antoinette’s arrogant answer to famine… and it wouldn’t be the hardest thing for any of us to give up when we try to eat better.
But dessert didn’t start out being the unhealthy over-processed confections we see today. The dessert offerings the Mesopotamians served up consisted of fruit and honey…
Somewhere along the way, dessert was adulterated. It became fluffy, fatty, deep fried, sugarized and glutenized… and paved the way for an explosion of chronic disease including diabetes, heart disease and cancer (sugar can fuel cancer).
So dessert really isn’t the problem. It’s what we’ve done to it. Done right, dessert can be a healthy part of a balanced diet — and the satisfaction it gives you can go a long way in helping you stick to a healthier way of eating.
The really great thing about this is that you can satisfy your sweet tooth without breaking all the rules with just three versatile and delicious health-boosting ingredients…
The three pleasures
In an interview published in National Geographic magazine, renowned nutritionist Walter Willet — who heads up the nutrition department at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health — had this to say about deserts, “At the vast majority of restaurants, there is nothing but various combinations of refined flour, sugar and unhealthy fats” on the menu.
Sadly, that’s true of most of the desserts we eat at home too, whether we bring a cake, or a box donuts home from the bakery, or make them from box mixes… or even from scratch.
What would he recommend instead? The three pleasures…
“From a large amount of research, we know that nuts, fruit, and dark chocolate are some of the healthiest foods we could eat,” he says.
You thought it was going to be something super exotic didn’t you? But the three pleasures are basic foods you should already be enjoying. And when you combine them, the satisfaction and nutrition factor is through the roof…
That’s because many fruits, nuts and dark chocolate (cocoa) are considered superfoods…
Fruit (especially berries) is full of vitamins and minerals… nuts supply healthy unsaturated fats that ample research has shown can lower risk of diabetes and heart disease… and antioxidant-rich dark chocolate is reported to help reduce blood pressure and insulin resistance — unlike sugary milk chocolate used in so many processed desserts and candies.
Now before you think these three ingredients constitute nothing but trail mix, think again. If you need inspiration see the different variations Willett has been served up at various restaurants when he asks chefs to go “off-menu” and make him dessert consisting of the three pleasures. With just a little ingenuity you can begin serving these up at home.
Or like me, just keep some strawberries, blueberries or grapes on hand, one of those large dark chocolate bars you can break into squares, and my favorite nut, walnuts, for a pleasing treat any time of day.
But the important thing to remember about this treat… it can be part of a healthy balanced diet. And here’s why and how…
No dessert — no success
Research has shown that cutting out sweets all together can backfire.
According to German research, knowing that you have to forgo dessert makes it harder for you to stick to a diet and more likely to put on extra pounds. That’s because you feel made to suffer… and that negativity can set you up to fail from the start.
But a sensible dessert has a positive effect…
Research at the University of Alabama found that when overweight women ate small desserts four times a week, they lost 9 pounds more than women who chose to randomly splurge on their diet.
I’d much rather enjoy fruit, nuts and chocolate four times a week than one chocolate fudge brownie smothered in ice cream, wouldn’t you? So do yourself a favor and don’t forget about the other important food group you should be eating… dessert.
Editor’s note: Dr. Michael Cutler would agree that dessert is a balanced part of a balanced diet. In his new health guide, The Part-Time Health Nut, he shows how easy and sensible if can be to attain your best health ever — without extreme diets, dangerous pills or brutal workouts. Click here to get your copy today, plus FREE gifts valued at $109.80!