A new study revealed that eating foods low in sugar can help prevent inflammation and the development of autoimmune diseases—but that doesn't mean you have to give up dessert.
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chai pudding with pomegranate
Credit: Kateryna Kutsevol / Getty Images


Consuming too much sugar, as well as eating a high-calorie diet, can cause inflammation and increase your risk for autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes and Crohn's, according to a new study published in the journal Cell Metabolism. To combat these health issues, researchers emphasize that a low-calorie diet that's low in sugar is key. But that doesn't mean you have to settle for a bowl of fruit when you want something sweet, or swear off indulgences forever.

Instead, indulge in desserts that can ease inflammation. "Foods that are anti-inflammatory generally are antioxidant-rich and supply vitamins and minerals with free radical scavenging capacities such as, but not limited, to vitamin C, E, D, carotenoids, and omega 3s," says Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN of Maya Feller Nutrition, which is based in Brooklyn, N.Y. "Plants including fruits and vegetables, sea vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds are all great sources of anti-inflammatory foods."

When thinking about the sweet treats you'd like to make from home, opt for recipes featuring nuts and seeds—like Feller's Pineapple-Peanut Nice Cream, featured in her Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook—and fruits. These are malleable ingredients that can impart rich flavors in any dessert. Looking for more anti-inflammatory dessert ideas? Consider some of our favorite last-course recipes below, all of which are low in refined sugar and contain healthy ingredients.

peach and blueberry tart with cream cheese filling

Peach and Blueberry Tart with Cream Cheese Filling

"The combination of peach and blueberry supply phytonutrients in a sweet package," says Feller. "Berries have been shown to support cardiovascular health, and peaches are a good source of fiber that supports digestive health."  

Rhubarb Custard Tart

Rhubarb Custard Tart

This Rhubarb Custard Tart is an excellent anti-inflammatory dessert, as the vegetable "supplies fiber, vitamin C and K, as well as calcium. The combination of the vitamins and minerals in rhubarb support gut health, and in turn, support immune health," says Feller.

orange-vanilla shake

Orange-Vanilla Shake

Packed with citrus, this chilled Orange-Vanilla Shake is not only sweet and satisfying—but it's also filled with nourishing vitamin C, thanks to the two peeled oranges.

tofu panna with roasted cherries

Roasted Cherries with Tofu "Panna Cotta"

The health benefits of cherries, which help inhibit oxidative stress and decrease inflammation by suppressing inflammatory proteins in the body, have been written about extensively. In our Roasted Cherries with Tofu "Panna Cotta", fresh, sweet cherries are combined with raspberries, which are rich in antioxidants, and served atop creamy tofu (instead of the cream used in traditional panna cotta).

dark chocolate walnut date bar

Dark Chocolate-Walnut Date Bar

This vegan, gluten-free, no-bake Dark Chocolate-Walnut Date Bar is filled with omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols from the antioxidant-rich walnuts, which also help prevents oxidative damage. The dark chocolate offers antioxidants, as well.

vanilla-chia-pudding-mld108020.jpg

Vanilla Chia Pudding

The combination of chia seeds and mixed raspberries and blueberries in this Vanilla Chia Pudding offers a sweet treat that packs plenty of omega-3s, fiber, and antioxidants.

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