Ice cream

WHY IT MAKES THE LIST It shouldn't, but I like it. So I'll try to justify it by saying that it has a bit of calcium, and at least the sugar is the real stuff, not high-fructose corn syrup (discussed in the "Garbage" list below).

THE INSULIN ADVANTAGE Most foods that provoke a powerful surge of the hormone insulin also create a fast rise in blood sugar. As I said above, when I discussed potatoes and other starchy foods, this is rarely what you want from a meal. A quick rise in blood sugar is good after a workout, so protein and carbohydrates can go to work immediately to repair and refuel your muscles. But at other times, it's the opposite of what you want. A slower blood-sugar rise means a longer, steadier flow of energy.

But some foods cause a big rise in insulin without a corresponding rise in blood sugar. Beef is one, and ice cream is another. (Indeed, all dairy products have this odd quality, although the carbohydrates in ice cream make the insulin response much higher than that of carb-free foods like meat.) That brings me to one of the lesser-known and most underrated roles of insulin: It shuts down your appetite. If you have a fast insulin response, you feel satisfied by whatever you just ate. And if you combine that with a slow blood-sugar response, instead of a quick spike, you retain that feeling of satisfaction longer.

All this may be kind of a stretch to justify including a food I have trouble resisting. But if you must have an occasional indulgence, and I know I sure as hell do, this may be the least-worst in the dessert category.

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