Sure, your refined white sugars can spark an energy crash, and ice cream might be as addictive as crack. But the sweet stuff has some virtues—for your heart, diet goals, and even libido. Here are the top five ways eating dessert can actually do your body good.
It protects you from strokes.
A few bites of chocolate each day could decrease the risk of stroke down the line. In a study from Neurology, 37,000 Swedish men aged 45 to 79 recorded their diet over the course of 10 years. Those who ate the most chocolate (62.9 grams per week in this case) were 17 percent less likely to suffer from a stroke than those who nixed the treat entirely. "The key message to take away here is that these studies focus on the intake of dark chocolate," says Heather Calcote, a registered dietician and a program manager at Corporate Wellness Solutions. "Typically this is marked on the package by something containing 65 to 70% cocoa or more. Note that some brands that sell dark chocolate often include milk in their mix. Check ingredient lists and either stick with cocoa powder or selectively choose your dark chocolate."
It's healthy for breakfast (maybe).
Forget what mom always said about breakfast. Earlier this year, researchers at Tel Aviv University claimed that eating cookies and cake in the morning could actually help you lose weight. The study, published in Steroids, looked at about 200 adults on low-calorie diets. Some ate a large, 600-calorie breakfast topped off with a cookie, slice of cake, or doughnut. The others were stuck with a 300-calorie, protein-packed meal of tuna, egg whites, cheese, and milk. Those who lucked out with sweets said they were less hungry and had fewer cravings throughout the day. Moreover, they kept on losing weight in the second half of the study—the low-carb dieters gained back much of what they had shed. Calcote worries that adding a slice of cake or other refined sugars to breakfast could result in a crash a couple hours of later, so she suggests finding more natural ways to sweeten your morning meal. "Having something sweet for breakfast could be as simple as adding honey or agave to oatmeal, topping yogurt with granola or having a frozen berry smoothie," she says.