Guilty Pleasures That Are Great For You

chocolate bars(BlackDoctor.org) — Yes, living health is the key to being healty. But another key to a healthy life is actually enjoying it, and moderately partaking in a few guilty pleasures, can lower your risks of certain illnesses.

So go ahead and…

Eat some chocolate. Recent studies have found that people who ate dark chocolate can reduce their risk of heart disease by as much as 37 percent, their risk of stroke by 29 percent, and their risk of being hospitalized for heart failure. However, for this to be a healthy habit, moderation is key — which means eating less than one serving (about 1 ounce) one or two days each week. Women who ate one or more servings a day didn’t lower their heart failure risk. Your best choice is 100 percent cocoa powder, which you can use when you’re making desserts or even hot (or cold) chocolate.

Have a drink. Whether drinking alcohol lowers your risk of heart disease has been a topic of debate, but a recent analysis of studies found that light to moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and death. What is considered “light to moderate” consumption? The study said it was less than one alcoholic drink per day.

 

Note: Don’t have more than three drinks per week because other studies have found three or more drinks could lead to breast cancer, says Eric Braverman, MD, clinical assistant professor of integrative medicine in neurological surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center and author of Younger (Sexier) You. Although men can drink slightly more, moderation is still key for them as well.

Make out. We know kissing feels good, but it can also be good for your health. The next time you’re looking for a smooch, you can tell your significant other that it could lower both of your chances of getting allergies. A study of 24 people with mild eczema and 24 people with mild hay fever found that kissing with soft music playing in the background for 30 minutes lowered the production of IgE antibodies, which lead to allergy symptoms.

Get some sun. Research shows that getting enough vitamin D is important for everyone, especially for postmenopausal women who may be at risk for osteoporosis. Rays from the sun help your body make vitamin D. All you need is to expose the backs of your hands to the sun two or three times a week for 10 to 15 minutes, says Darrell Rigel, MD, past president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery and clinical professor of dermatology at the New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City. This doesn’t mean you need to forgo sunscreen. Even when you wear sunscreen, you get enough sun exposure to make vitamin D, Dr. Rigel says.

Eat something canned. Healthy living includes eating fresh fruits and vegetables, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid canned foods altogether. Healthy options like fish and beans can be more convenient and less expensive in cans. Canned salmon and tuna are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and research shows they may lower inflammation and risk of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis, so be sure to add them to your diet.. Eating beans, along with other foods low on the glycemic index, has been have found to help lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. For optimal nutrition, look for canned foods with no salt added.

Don’t go fat-free.
Should you shun all fat from your diet? No! Healthy fats may actually help to lower inflammation and the risk of death due to inflammatory disease. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition of more than 2,500 people age 49 and older, those who ate the most of a certain type of polyunsaturated fatty acids (known as n-PUFAs) over 15 years had a lower risk of dying from an inflammatory disease. Monounsaturated fats, which include olive oil and nuts, are other healthy fats that should be part of a good diet. Among other things, fats create cell membranes in our bodies, Dr. Dean says. Make a habit of replacing saturated and trans fat with these healthier choices.

Don’t give up your morning coffee. If it tastes good and it helps you get through the day, it must be bad for you, right? Well, research is finding that’s not the case for coffee, which can make it a good health habit after all. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, drinking coffee lowered inflammation and increased levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol. Another study of more than 69,000 French women in the same journal found that drinking coffee lowered risk of diabetes when the women drank it at lunch time. Up to five cups of coffee a day is okay, Dr. Braverman says.

Eat carbs. In today’s world of high-protein diets, carbohydrates get a bad rap. But they’re an important part a healthy diet when you choose complex carbohydrates such as root vegetables and whole grains over refined, sugary carbs such as donuts, Dean says. Research shows that people who eat whole grains tend to weigh less and have a lower risk for cardiovascular disease.

In another study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that men and women with metabolic syndrome, which is a group of risk factors such as high blood pressure and a large waistline that raise your risk of heart disease, who were on a low-calorie diet lost more belly fat and lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease when they ate whole grains instead of refined grains.

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