It’s a (somewhat) healthy breakfast staple
When mom said you couldn’t have dessert until you finished your veggies, she was wrong! Researchers at Tel Aviv University surveyed about 200 adults on low-calorie diets; half ate a 600-calorie breakfast that included a cookie, slice of cake, or donut, while the other half were given a 300-calorie meal packed with protein, including tuna, egg whites, cheese, and milk. Those who ate the sweets reported fewer cravings and less hunger throughout the day. And get this: both groups lost weight, but the sweets subjects kept on losing it even as the low-carb dieters gained back what they had shed. Experts believe this is because eating more calories in the morning provides your body with energy to last the entire day, limiting unhealthy snacking. You’ve never had a better excuse to chow down on those chocolate-chip pancakes—but don’t do it every day, since they’re still packed with loads of fat and sugar that affect more than your waistline.
It lowers your blood pressure
A few bites of chocolate each day could decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease down the line. A 2011 Harvard study found that eating a small square of dark chocolate every day lowered blood pressure in all 1,106 participants. They believe this is because chocolate rich in cocoa (as found in unsweetened or dark chocolate) packs a high concentration of flavonoids, an antioxidant with huge anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits.
Dessert can put you in the mood for romance
Some desserts pack double the aphrodisiac punch for men and women alike. Take pumpkin pie, for example: pumpkins contain zinc-packed seeds shown to increase testosterone levels. Plus, just the scent of baking pumpkin pie could be a libido booster; a study from the Smell and Taste Treatment Research Center in Chicago found that pumpkin pie increased penile blood flow for men and lowered anxiety levels in both men and women. The smell of vanilla was found to have much the same effect. For women, dark chocolate seems to especially do the trick; a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who indulged on a piece of chocolate every day enjoyed a more active sex life than those who didn’t. Try more aphrodisiac foods proven to spark romance.