What Was Once Bad for You is Now Good

Red wine and chocolateWhat was once bad for you is now good. Let’s celebrate with a glass of wine and some chocolate! Remember the old days when your mom cut back on the number of eggs she served you because it could cause your cholesterol to skyrocket? Or when chocolate was a no no?

Well, no more. New studies have proven that many of the foods we once avoided for their villainous reputations may actually be good for us and it’s OK to keep them in our diet. In fact, there are health benefits to indulging, so let’s celebrate with a glass of wine and some dark chocolate. Now no one is suggesting over-indulging, but in moderation such things as red wine, dark chocolate, eggs and even popcorn can help our heart health, lower breast cancer risk and even reduce body mass.

Of course, doctors and researchers are also quick to point out that no one should make broad-based dietary changes based on just one study. New and varied data comes out every day, so it’s possible that tomorrow we’ll be removing these treats from our diet once again.

For now, here are some things that were once thought to be bad that we can now happily consume:

Red Wine and Heart Health: Red wine in moderation is now thought of as heart healthy. The antioxidants like flavonoids and resveratrol found in red wine more than other types of alcohol may actually help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of “good” cholesterol and protecting against artery damage. Good news for anyone who likes to imbibe a glass with their evening meal. Though doctors are wary of encouraging anyone to take up drinking since too much can be harmful, they have given the go-ahead to enjoy a nightly glass without feeling guilty.

Chocolate and brain health:  Recent studies have found powerful health benefits to dark chocolate, linking it to many things including helping protect against intestinal diseases like colon cancer, to reducing risk of developing heart disease and boosting brain health in seniors.

A study published in the journal Hypertension looked at data from 90 seniors who already had mild cognitive impairment and found that their attention and other mental skills improved when they drank cocoa with high amounts of flavanols.

Chocolate is not only full of antioxidants that protect against many types of cancer, it also has a positive effect on mood and cognitive health. It contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier — as if we didn’t already know that!

Eggs and Good Cholesterol: Once we thought an omelet that included the yolks was practically a heart attack on a plate, but no more. There’s been a shift due to new research that indicates that eggs – yolks included – aren’t so bad for your heart. But don’t get us started on bacon!

Studies have found that yolks contain some important nutrients that aren’t found in the whites, including the all-important vitamin D and that their high cholesterol content actually boosts the heart protective “good” cholesterol and not the blood level of cholesterol, which is associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Popcorn and Antioxidants: Instead of being off-limits because of its fat content (if you drench it in butter), popcorn is now being heralded as a low-calorie snack that may contain more healthy antioxidants – called polyphenols — than fruits and vegetables. Polyphenols have been shown to boost cardiovascular health and protect against chronic diseases and popcorn has a very high concentration of them, especially in the hulls.

It’s also a whole grain food, which makes it a high-quality carbohydrate source that is low in calories and a good source of fiber. So air-pop some fresh kernels (stay away from the pre-packaged microwavable varieties that can be laden with fat, salt, chemicals and calories) and head to the movies.

The bottom line is that so called “bad” foods can actually have some good properties. So don’t go overboard but know that having a little can be good for you. Have you put any foods back in your diet due to current research?  Let us know.

Resources:

·         http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/early/2012/07/30/HYPERTENSIONAHA.112.193995.abstract?sid=340dd96f-f8f8-4c08-951c-4e9a04da1037

·         http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/red-wine/HB00089

·         http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120325173008.htm