What Was ‘Bad’ is Now Good for You

Frances Kolarek-150 wideBy Frances Kolarek —

It’s crazy what you hear nowadays! Chocolate is good for us? Coffee too? And a glass of red wine from time to time? Yes. New research tells us this — and more! Folks! Things are looking up!

The Mayo Clinic Health Letter says: “Coffee is now associated with health benefits in many areas, such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight and longevity.” And you don’t need to feel guilty if you indulge in two to three cups a day, decaf or regular. Now if we could only erase that big “No-No” about coffee that resides somewhere in the back of our minds. That’s a problem.

As for chocolate, if you Google ”Is chocolate good for you?” the positive feedback will blow you away. There are, however, caveats. “A chewy caramel-marshmallow-nut-covered dark chocolate [full of fats] is by no means a heart-healthy food option,” the Cleveland Clinic’s website warns. But a small amount of DARK chocolate daily can have healthful effects. Don’t expect instant results; give it time.

For all of this, thank flavonoids. These chemicals which are found in many plants, are important antioxidants, providing protection against allergies and viral infections among other health issues. “One flavonoid called quercetin can help to alleviate eczema, sinusitis, asthma and hay fever,” one medical website promises. Its chemical composition and other scientific data are available online in rich detail.

Research on the effects of flavonoids on our bodies is ongoing, with evidence that they release serotinin and other substances in the brain that make us feel good. They are found in coffee, onions, parsley, blueberries, bananas, dark chocolate and red wine.

Red wine? How lovely! “Moderate drinking may keep your heart healthy by raising levels of HDL, the ‘good’ cholesterol, and by preventing clots from forming,” another Mayo Clinic newsletter says, but it defines moderate drinking as one drink daily for those over 65. Other sources are somewhat more lenient. However, all admonish: “If you don’t drink, don’t start.”

Although for years we have heard that people who live in areas that produced red wine enjoy a few extra years, it is now believed that there is little difference between red wine and other types of alcohol.

So the next time you have exercised conscientiously or devoured generous amounts of kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts or broccoli at dinner, why not reward yourself for good behavior?

Eat a piece of dark chocolate. Sip a glass of wine. Drink a cup of after-dinner coffee. Whichever. Enjoy!

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