Research shows cake and other sweets may improve heart health

Research shows cake and other sweet treats may improve heart health

Your office puts out a birthday cake for a co-worker's birthday and you begin the battle with yourself to resist the sweet treat. Sure, it's delicious and homemade, but all those calories won't be good for the figure or for your health. But what if we told you that indulging cookies and cake may actually be better for you than you thought? Get ready for the best news you'll hear all day:

According to a new study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, having a cookie or a piece of cake could lower your chances for poor heart health. Researchers at the German Institute of Human Nutrition studied more than 20,000 participants' total food intake. Of course, they discovered much of what we already know – consuming whole grains and eating more fruits and veggies promoted a healthy heart. However, research also showed that there was less of an association between dessert and disease prevention.

However, this research doesn't mean that overindulging in slices of cake and copious amounts of cookies is okay. These sweet treats can be made part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation. The American Heart Association recommended that women get no more than six teaspoons of sugar per day. For men, it should be no more than nine teaspoons per day. However, many Americans often overindulge, getting closer to 22 teaspoons or 355 calories per day.

Luckily, there are a few desserts out there that don't have loads of sugar and calories. Protein powders make a great addition to any dessert. A few scoops of Naturade 100% Soy can give you the protein you need to promote healthy muscle growth. Here are a few dessert recipes from Health.com that you can try out right at home without having to feel guilty about indulging!

Strawberry shortcake

Calories per serving: 113

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sweetener
¼ teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
1 cup orange juice
1 ½ cups sliced strawberries
6 spongecake dessert shells

Combine the sweetener and cornstarch. Stir in the orange juice and bring to a boil. Stir constantly for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in extract. Let it cool completely before moving on to the next step. Combine orange juice mixture and strawberries and chill for 30 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the dessert shells to complete this guilt-free dessert.

Vanilla Lemon Berry Parfait

Calories per serving: 176

2 containers fat-free vanilla pudding
2 tablespoons bottled lemon curd
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Lemon zest
3 cups mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries)
Fresh mint leaves

Whisk together the lemon curd, vanilla extract and yogurt. In a separate bowl, stir lemon zest, lemon juice and honey together and mix well. Add in the berries and stir to coat the fruit in the honey mixture. Scoop three tablespoons of the yogurt mixture into four separate glasses and top with ¼ cup of the berries and another 3 tablespoons of yogurt. Next, add another layer of berries. Garnish with the fresh mint leaves if desired.

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