7 Desserts that Fight Fat

What do Darth Vader, King Kong, and an ice cream sundae all have in common? They’re all destructive, havoc-wreaking villains. But if you look deeper, you discover that they all have a good side, as well. Kong may have made a mess of Midtown Manhattan, but his animal rage was driven by his love for Fay Wray. Sure, Lord Vader wanted to destroy the Jedi, but when push came to shove, he put Skywalker first. And, well, the same is true of the ice cream sundae sitting in your dish.

It might have a bit more sugar than your body needs (technically your body doesn’t need any sugar), but ice cream also delivers calcium, which binds to fatty acids in the digestive tract and blocks their absorption. And ½ cup gives you 17 milligrams of choline, which can lower homocysteine. What’s homocysteine? An amino acid that restricts blood flow, and by lowering it, ice cream might actually help diminish your risk of stroke and heart disease. And so it is with dessert: If you can look at your after-dinner treat as an opportunity to add something more than just calories, you’re on your way to a healthier (and more indulgent) diet.

To that end we’ve pulled together America’s best desserts—the ones that offer something of nutritional substance, avoid the flab-inducing deluge of calories, and short you none on satisfaction. (Think of this list as the antidote to the 10 Worst Ice Cream Treat Treats in America.)


Best Scoop-Shop Dessert
Cold Stone Creamery Tart and Tangy Plain Yogurt (Like It size with walnuts)
270 calories
13 g fat (1 g saturated)
24 g sugars

On its own, the Like It Size Tart and Tangy Yogurt has a mere 140 calories, making it the ideal base for a healthy topping of your choice. Fruit works fine, but walnuts usher in fiber and healthy fats, both of which work to keep your blood sugar in a healthy range as you indulge your sweet tooth.

Not That!
Oreo Crème Ice Cream (Like It Size)
440 calories
31 g fat (14 g saturated)
38 g sugars


Best Classic Dessert
Sonic Junior Banana Split
200 calories
6 g fat (4.5 g saturated)
22 g sugars

Whoever decided that banana splits should have three scoops of ice cream obviously wasn’t worried about body fat. So let’s agree right now: The only banana split worth eating is a single-scoop banana split. Thank you, Sonic, for giving us what we want.

Not That!
Banana Cream
Pie Shake (14 oz)
408 calories
29 g fat (20 g saturated)
77 g sugars

Bonus Tip: You know what’s more threatening than dessert? The soda you drink alongside dinner. But maybe you already knew that—check out the 20 Worst Drinks in America for some truly shocking waistline offenders.


Best Dessert Parfait
Ruby Tuesday Berry Good Yogurt Parfait
162 calories
3 g fat
26 g carbohydrates

The parfait is an entirely underutilized dessert. Ideally it should be a little sweeter than a breakfast parfait (this one is), yet still offer significant hits of fresh fruit, protein, and fiber (this one does). Order this in place of Ruby’s Italian Cream Cake and consider yourself 828 calories thinner.

Not That!
Italian Cream Cake
990 calories
56 g fat
108 g carbohydrates

Best Chocolate Bar
Chocolove Strong Dark Chocolate Bar, 70% Cocoa (1/3 bar, 30 g)
157 calories
12 g fat (7 g saturated)
8 g sugars

It’s time to swear off milk chocolate. The dark stuff is a far richer source of epicatechin, an antioxidant that helps blood vessels relax, and studies show it migh reduce your odds of developing diabetes. After years of taste-testing dark chocolates, Chocolove’s Strong Dark still wins out—dark enough to corral cocoa’s benefits, yet sweet enough to taste like dessert. Discover more perfect foods like this when you sign up for the Eat This, Not That! newsletter. It's completely free. And if you subscribe today, you'll also receive our most popular download ever: Shop Once, Eat for a Week!

Not That!
Hershey’s Mr. Goodbar (49 g)
250 calories
17 g fat (7 g saturated)
23 g sugars


Best Shake
Wendy’s Jr. Original Chocolate Frosty
150 calories
4 g fat (2.5 g saturated)
22 g sugars

It seems like every year Wendy’s comes out with some new, tricked-out Frosty. There are now Frosty Floats, Frosty Shakes, and Frosty-cinos, and every one is worse than the original Frosty. Stick to the classic, and make it a “junior.” Up-sizing to the small will more than double the calories in your cup. Want to see what other restaurants have transformed your favorite foods into your belly’s worst enemy? Check this out: The Craziest Food Creations of 2010.

Not That!
Oreo Twisted Frosty
440 calories
14 g fat (7 g saturated)
55 g sugars


Best Yogurt
Chobani Strawberry Nonfat Greek Yogurt
140 calories
0 g fat
19 g sugars

With other flavored yogurts, “strawberry” amounts to little more than corn sweeteners and red dye, but on Chobani’s ingredient statement, fruit is second only to Greek yogurt—just as it should be. That fills your dessert out with more natural sugar and good stuff like vitamins C and A, which bolster your immune system while mopping up free radicals in your body. (While you're at it, strengthen your heart, fortify your bones, and boost your metabolism with our list of the 40 Foods with Superpowers.)

Not That!
Yoplait Original 99% Fat Free Strawberry
170 calories
1.5 g fat (1 g saturated)
27 g sugars


Best Caffeinated Dessert
P.F. Chang’s Mini Tiramisu
100 calories
11 g fat (5 g saturated)
10 g carbohydrates

Thanks to the arms race of oversized foods currently underway in America’s kitchens, proper dessert portions now come with qualifying terms like “mini.” So be it. Chang’s Tiramisu consists of multiple decadent layers, just enough to hit your sweet tooth and reward a good day of eating. Eat this instead of a slice of New York-Style Cheesecake and you’ll save 820 calories. Make a dessert swap like that three times a week and you’ll shed nearly 3 pounds every month.

Not That!
New York-Style Cheesecake
920 calories
56 g fat (36 g saturated)
92 g carbohydrates

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