A little sweet treat once in a blue moon really won’t hurt your health. In fact, if you follow these healthy dessert habits and even try pairing one of these dessert recipes with a side of fruit, your dessert can actually turn into a nutritious eating experience. Nevertheless, the reason dessert gets a bad rep is due to the high amount of sugar that is usually found in most desserts–especially desserts that are highly processed and sitting on grocery shelves. These products usually do not have much nutritional value to offer your body, and if you’re not careful, they can easily become the one food that will shorten your life.
We spoke with a few experts on why eating a high amount of added sugar in your diet can actually shorten your life, and their insight was invaluable. Here’s what they had to say, and for even more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Added sugars have been linked to chronic diseases.
There are a lot of food items that surprisingly have sugar in them. Fruits and vegetables are a great example of this—a lot of them will have fructose, which is a natural sugar that comes from the plant. Even though fructose is still technically a sugar and should be limited, eating the sugar that comes from fresh fruits and vegetables will still benefit your body in immense ways rather than hurt it.
The type of food that will shorten your life is added sugars. Added sugars are found in all kinds of foods that you may not even realize in order to make them taste sweet. Any food that has sugar added to it would be placed into this category. Even low-fat grocery store items—which have the air of being healthy because they are “low fat“—will have higher sugar content in order to taste better.
“Sugar and processed foods will shorten your life as they promote inflammation in the body,” Jamie Feit, MS, RD, and expert at Testing.com. “Inflammation causes disease over time.”
“[Added sugars] can be found in virtually every processed food, typically in the form of high-fructose corn syrup,” says Talia Segal Fidler, MS, HHC, AADP, and holistic nutritionist from The Lodge at Woodloch. “High-sugar diets are associated with inflammation, obesity, and type 2 diabetes and they are the main cause to many other chronic health problems associated with insulin resistance, fatty liver disease, cancer, heart damage, hormonal imbalances, and dementia.”
The reason added sugars can result in a higher risk of inflammation and other diseases is all due to how the body absorbs sugar when consumed.
“Large amounts of added sugar eaten daily should be avoided,” Dr. Rachel Paul, PhD, RD from CollegeNutritionist.com. “Quick absorbing sugar spikes our blood sugar, but then it plummets soon after, making us hungry again, quickly. Over time, regularly eating large amounts of added sugar is related to weight gain, increased triglycerides, and tooth decay.”
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The biggest culprits of added sugars on grocery shelves.
While there are a lot of items on grocery store shelves packed with sugar (even your favorite breakfast cereal!), there are two culprits that nutritionists tend to point out as being the foods that are the worst-of-the-worst when it comes to your lifespan: Soda and candy.
“Soda has no nutritional value and is purely empty calories,” says Lisa R. Young PhD, RDN, and the author of Finally Full, Finally Slim. “All its calories come from added sugar known to increase the risk for various diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer along with causing weight gain.”
“Candy is one food that will shorten your life if eaten regularly because candy is instant sugar for your body is, what we call, ‘calorie dense’ instead of ‘nutrient-dense,’ which means that, while it provides are body with a lot of calories, it does not provide us with a lot of good nutrition,” says Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN at a Taste of Health and Expert at Testing.com. “It can shorten your life if eaten regularly because consuming high amounts of quick sugars can lead to weight gain, insulin resistance—which can eventually become diabetes, and can even lead to fat deposits forming on organs in our body that can result in issues with our heart, our gallbladder, and more.”
How to enjoy dessert and stay healthy.
Now we aren’t saying that you should eliminate all desserts from your diet—you should always enjoy the food you love and never feel like you have to restrict yourself! There are in fact quite a few healthy dessert recipes you can make or even desserts to buy.
The trick is to practice portion control with your desserts by enjoying a small amount of your favorite sweet thing at a time. Some nutritionists even say having a small dessert every day is fine, as long as it’s portion-controlled properly as to not mess with your health goals.
Plus, dark chocolate is full of healthy antioxidants that are actually good for your body, so eating a square of your favorite dark chocolate candy right after a meal won’t make your blood sugar spike and will give you a boost of those antioxidants. Here’s What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Chocolate.