Healthier Ways to Satisfy That Sweet Tooth
As a recovering sweet-tooth junkie, eating a strawberry scone for breakfast; then indulging in a couple of sugar cookies after lunch; along with a large cup of frozen yogurt, drizzled with caramel, and topped with brownie fudge, after dinner had become a normal day for my sweet-tooth lifestyle. My husband never even suspected I was stashing jelly-bellys, caramel drops, candy bars, brownies, butter-pecan cookies, peanut butter cookies, and chocolate chip cookies in my secret hideaway for, “in case of emergencies.”
Thankfully, because I was a workout warrior, as soon as I put in the calories I was able to burn them off, so my secret, sweet-lifestyle was well hidden. However, eating too many sweets can be bad for you in a myriad of ways. Cavities, weight gain and diabetes are the obvious culprits, but over-doing it on sugary treats can lead to mood swings, acne breakouts, heart disease, and some have even linked excess sugar consumption to various forms of cancer.
Normally, when we pine for sweets the unwholesome choices are the ones that we immediately gravitate toward, but if we resolve to pick the treats that are better for us we’ll be making decisions that will not only add needed vitamins and minerals to our diets, but will aid in improving our quality of life, and, as an added benefit, we’ll begin to crave the healthier options.
Below are five treats, which are by no means calorie or sugar-free, but they are packed with nutrients which make them healthier choices.
Dark chocolate has rich antioxidants, or anti-aging factors, that are good for you, plus this rich candy is satisfying and delectable. Dark chocolate also contains vitamins and minerals, potassium, copper, magnesium and iron. But, not only that, eating two or three small servings per week have been known to reduce blood pressure, lower risk for heart failure, reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and not to mention, researchers found that dark chocolate lessens cravings for other sweets, but, word of note, the darker the chocolate the healthier it is for you.
Nougat Made with Almonds
This classic candy delight, made with egg whites, honey and almonds, has been around for centuries. And, although it’s high in calories, it boasts so many health benefits that is should be at the top of any sweet-cravers go-to goody list. The advantages include: vegetable protein, fiber, vitamin-E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and because this nougat contains almonds, it provides healthy fats for the heart and improves blood circulation. Almonds also help build strong bones and teeth, which only increase the healthiness of this delightful indulgence.
Greek Yogurt Parfait
Choosing Greek yogurt, over traditional yogurt, is all the rage. That’s because this Mediterranean delight has half the sugar of regular yogurt, double the amount of protein, and half the sodium, plus, it’s loaded with nutrients, like calcium and vitamin D, that are great for your body. If possible, stick to plain yogurt and include fresh fruit, like strawberries and bananas, to sweeten the taste and add nutrition. Strawberries and bananas are packed with vital nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C and potassium. The antioxidants in these fruits also help to fight disease and promote good health.
Because of the concentration of fruits in this filling drink you get more nutrients than just juice alone. You can add frozen blueberries, another high antioxidant fruit, pineapples, which aids in digestion, mangos, which help protect vision, peaches, which is high in vitamin A and helps regulate the immune system, and, as mentioned above, you can’t go wrong with adding strawberries and bananas. Now, don’t panic, but for a supplementary boost of health you can throw in spinach. I know what you’re thinking, but, the fruit will mask the taste. You can also mix in coconut water, an excellent source of electrolytes, which is good for proper muscle contraction and spawning energy into the body. With all of these health benefits in a single serving, this is one sweet-treat that could be consumed on a daily basis.
Unsweetened dried fruits are some of the healthiest alternatives to eating a sugary snack, and a great way to gratify that reappearing sweet tooth. Specifically, dried mango is viewed as one of the healthiest of the dried fruit family. Like a lot of the treats mentioned this tasty mango snack is high in antioxidants, and rich in vitamins A, C and E, as well as omega-3 and fatty acids, which aid in keeping our skin healthy. And although dried fruit is a healthy snack option, it should be noted that it does contain more sugar than fresh fruit and should be eaten in moderation, just like all the other treats mentioned.
You don’t need to eat an ice cream sundae, or a Snickers bar to satisfy your sugar addiction. There are so many healthy alternatives to choose from that relying on the unhealthiest choice should no longer be the norm. Occasionally, you may still want to reach for that caramel pie or strawberry cake, but if you’re talking about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and adding years to your life, you should probably make the healthier options the new normal for your diet.