7 Vices That Are Actually Good for You

7 Vices That Are Actually Good for You

Chocolate lovers, rejoice! A new study conducted by The University of California, San Diego suggests that eating chocolate could actually help you lose weight. Beatrice Golomb, M.D., Ph.D. and her team surveyed women between the ages of 25 and 80 and found a direct correlation between regular chocolate consumption and lower body mass index (BMI). “The metabolic benefits of chocolate,” Golomb writes in the study, “offset the calories consumed.” Turns out, a number of items formerly pilloried as indulgent, excessive, or just plain unhealthy are back on our healthy-lifestyle radar. From red wine to marijuana, here are seven “bad” things that, in moderation, can be surprisingly good for you.

Chocolate
Not only does chocolate help you lose weight, but it can also fight allergies, supplant vitamin deficiencies, and work as a remedy for over 60 ailments. In “The Chocolate Therapist: A User’s Guide to the Extraordinary Health Benefits of Chocolate,” Julie Pech enumerates chocolate’s advantages, provides a narrative of its rich history and gives readers an in-depth look at how it’s made.

Red wine
Drinking a glass of red wine daily could lead to a longer, healthier life, says author Roger Corder in “The Red Wine Diet.” He reveals how an ingredient present in red wines—a compound called a procyanidin, not to be confused with resveratrol—contributes to the health of blood vessels, and reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and dementia. Procyanidin levels vary among wines, of course—the benefits of a south of France Syrah, for instance, far outweigh those of a California Cabernet—and Corder helps readers choose the healthiest.

Fat
Among all those constantly fluctuating dietary suggestions, avoiding fat can seem like the only safe bet. But not all fats are created equal, and in “Good Fats, Bad Fats,” Rosemary Stanton asserts that some fats are not only harmless, but vital to a healthy diet. These include omega-3s, omega-6s and vegetable oils, among others. Of course, there’s a host of fats that any health-minded eater will want to stay far, far away from—Stanton’s guide helps you separate the beneficial kinds from their artery-congesting counterparts.

Salt
There’s been a slew of anti-salt sentiment in recent years, with countless low- and no-sodium cookbooks cramming the shelves of diet literature. But in the James Beard Cookbook Award-winning “Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, With Recipes,” Mark Bitterman maintains the nutritional importance of the age-old flavor-enhancer. Sodium helps regulate fluid levels and aids muscle contraction, and deficiency of the mineral can lead to diarrhea, vomiting and low blood pressure. Salt also has a fascinating history, reaching back to antiquity, as both a culinary touchstone and a prized currency.

Caffeine
Probably no amount of dire health warnings could have curbed our national caffeine addiction, but coffee drinkers can now pride themselves on java’s surprising health benefits. Recent studies show that drinking coffee can reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men, breast cancer in women and heart attacks in all, and can also activate sex hormones. Robert J. Davis’s “Coffee is Good for You: From Vitamin C and Organic Foods to Low-Carb and Detox Diets, the Truth about Diet and Nutrition Claims” gives readers the straight story on caffeine and more.

Bread
Thanks to low-carb mania and a battery of anti-dough manifestoes, bread—once a kitchen staple—has been vilified (literally, as in the new diet book “Bread Is the Devil”). But in “Bread Matters,” Andrew Whitley says that to dismiss bread as a whole is to miss out on its many nutritious and flavorful variations. By choosing and baking the right kinds of bread—such as yeast- and gluten-free—we can take advantage of its rich grain nutrients and sidestep less palatable effects, such as lethargy and weight gain.

Marijuana
Potheads—as well fed and well rested as they are—aren’t known to be the healthiest bunch. But advocates have championed the drug’s health benefits as grounds for its decriminalization. Cannabis has been shown to relieve migraines, mitigate seizures, slow cancer tumor growth, and even fight the neurological effects of multiple sclerosis. “Understanding Marijuana” by Mitch Earleywine takes a cold-hard-facts look at the benefits and drawbacks of the drug.

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