Dessert, is it essential in a balanced diet?

Getting a healthy diet through a balanced diet and, sometimes, together with the goal of losing weight, is one of the most common resolutions with the arrival of the new year. As far as food is concerned, there are deep-rooted beliefs that breakfast is the most important meal of the dayyou have to drink two liters of water a day or it is necessary to make five daily intakes.

And, when talking about five meals a day, these questions are raised: dessert yes or no? Is dessert essential for a balanced diet? What if the goal is to lose weight? For Enric Sánchez, co-coordinator of the Obesity Diet Therapy Working Group of the Spanish Obesity Society (Seedo) and IRB Researcher in Lleida, dessert in itself as the last course after lunch and dinner is not essential to achieve a balanced diet, especially if the dessert is associated with sweet products.

What is essential is (consume) the three seasonal fruits as a typical daily dessert, as well as dairy products; mainly whole natural cheese and yogurt (one or two a day)”, explains this Sánchez.

Likewise, the Seedo spokesman clarified that the consumption of seasonal fruits and dairy products can be done both after the main meals and distributed between mid-morning and the afternoon snack. In this sense, Rosa Arnau, member of Food of the Illustrious College of Pharmacists of Castellón (ICofcs), highlights that fruit is the best option if we decide to have dessertsince it is a low-calorie food that is necessary to have a balanced diet and that, if you stop consuming it, can cause nutritional deficiencies.

“It is also believed that the fruit consumed at the end of the meal decreases the absorption of nutrients, something inaccurate since it even favors it: for example, the vitamin C in oranges facilitates the absorption of iron”, details this pharmaceutical expert in nutrition.

On the other hand, Arnau remembers that the ideal is consume the whole piece of fruit to take advantage of all its properties and its fiber content and, to make it more attractive, it proposes recipes such as fruit skewers or desserts based on fresh fruit such as homemade ice cream, homemade sorbets or combine the fruit with a dairy product such as natural yogurt, fresh cheese or cottage cheese.

Regarding which desserts should be avoided, both experts consulted by CuídatePlus agree that those ultra-processed foods whose main ingredient is simple sugar should be eliminated from our menu and that provide an extra amount of carbohydrates. Some examples of these products, indicates Sánchez, are donuts, cakes, tarts, cookies, ice cream, sorbets, chocolate, processed dairy desserts such as flans, truffles, brownies, mousses or tiramisu. . In addition, this nutritionist stresses the need to avoid those desserts that contain coffee or alcohol.

I’m on a diet to lose weight: dessert yes or no?

Another situation that raises doubts about the suitability of having dessert when a person wants to lose weight. In this regard, Sánchez highlights that people who want to lose weight should only lose fat: “This clarification is important because muscle training is a fundamental part for people with a few extra kilos.” In addition, this expert underlines the importance of practicing exercise with a moderate intensity, in which it is difficult to speak, but that does not become so intense that it can cause suffocation.

Next, Sánchez proposes a menu based on the Mediterranean diet with the best dessert options with the aim of losing fat:

  • Breakfast: Infusion. Bread with plum jam. Tangerines.
  • MidmorningPairing: Natural yogurt with raisins.
  • Lunch: Baked artichoke. Stewed chicken tacos with mashed turnips. Apple slices with lemon juice.
  • Afternoon snackPairing: Greek-style yogurt with kiwi.
  • Dinner: Beetroot cream. Mackerel with leek papillote. Pear.

Regarding this menu divided into five meals, Sánchez comments that if a person organizes their diet into three meals a day you can combine breakfast with mid-morning and dinner with snack. “The dietitian-nutritionist must adapt to the patient’s life to treat each person individually,” he adds.

Regarding weight loss, Sánchez advises include a handful of natural nuts because “although it may seem contradictory to want to lose fat and eat nuts with a lot of vegetable fat, it is not” because “the composition of polyunsaturated fatty acids gives nuts exceptional nutritional properties”.

In addition, both Sánchez and Arnau recommend remove from dietespecially if the goal is to lose weight, those products made with butter and other unhealthy fats such as the ultra-processed ones mentioned above.

Fruit, the perfect dessert for children and adults

According to the sources consulted in this report, children and older people do not need guidelines when choosing dessert compared to adults, unless they have a disease that requires it. Therefore, the star food to close a lunch or dinner is once again fruit.

The ideal is to get them (children) used to eating fresh fruit every dayoffering it peeled and chopped so that it is easy for them to consume”, points out Arnau and continues: “We can also make more creative desserts using the fruit as a base and adding gelatin or natural yogurt”.

In your opinion, fruit ice creams are another healthy option for the little ones in the house, especially in the hottest months. At this point, Sánchez recalls that the amounts for children should be less than those for adults and comments that the consumption of fruit can be promoted with presentations that have a diversity of colors to make them more attractive.

Regarding how to choose dessert for the elderlyArnau insists that fruit is also the best choice, although if there are chewing or swallowing problems it is advisable to opt for fruits with a soft texture, cook them in the oven, as can be the case with apples or pears, and even make natural behaviors with fresh fruit. “In this way, the chewing process is easier if they do not have so much strength in the muscles of the mouth, or all the teeth or dysphagia problems (swallowing),” Sánchez stresses.

Homemade desserts only for special occasions

As for other options, apart from fruit, Arnau points out that there are ingredients on the market that allow the preparation of healthy desserts and that they can be included in the diet of the elderly, as long as they are consumed in moderation and together with a diet appropriate for their age.

“The use of wholemeal flours is ideal for the preparation of breads, cakes and cookies since, due to their dietary fiber content, they help improve the digestion of older adults and reduce constipation problems, characteristic of this stage of life” , stands out.

For the vowel of Food of the ICofcs, these homemade desserts like tarts with blackberries and raspberries are rich in antioxidants and they can be sweetened with natural sweeteners because their use does not have a negative impact on blood sugar levels in older adults. “The consumption of dark chocolate and its use in desserts is also favorable for the health of the elderly since chocolate with higher cocoa content protects the cardiovascular systemlowers hypertension, has relaxing effects and also has a low sugar content, which is suitable for people with diabetes mellitus.”

According to Arnau, these homemade desserts would also be suitable for the smallest of the house whenever it is occasionally. “It’s okay to eat a dessert from time to time to satisfy small cravings, always keeping these recommendations in mind and avoiding excesses, which allows people of all ages to preserve and maintain good health,” he concludes.

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