Sugar, alcohol and fat are believed to be three of the biggest offenders that cause weight gain, disease and overall poor health. Yet recent research has demonstrated that a few of our favorite weaknesses may actually be beneficial when used in moderate amounts and with acute awareness of balance.
A Snickers bar may still be something to avoid, but what about dark chocolate?
In a report in The Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Dirk Taubert released research compiled with his colleagues at the University of Cologne in Germany that shows dark chocolate can lower blood pressure.
Of the types of chocolate (milk, white, etc.), dark chocolate has the highest amount of antioxidants, substances that help dispose of free radicals that can contribute to degenerative diseases and aging, according to Mauro Serafini, PhD, of Italy’s National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Rome.
The amount of cocoa in dark chocolate has a correlation with its health benefits. Cocoa can keep fat-like substances in the bloodstream from clogging blood vessels and keep platelets from banding together and causing blood clots.
The combined effects of high antioxidants along with the anti-clogging and anti-platelet aggregating effects of dark chocolate produce a lowered risk for cardiovascular disease, according to the American Association for Advancement of Science.
The plant compounds in wine known as phytochemicals, combined with the alcoholic content in wine has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and slow the progress of diseases affecting the mind like Alzheimer’s, according to Joy Bauer, a contributor to the Today Show.
Wine has some of the same effects as dark chocolate, ridding the body of free radicals in the blood and keeping plaque from building up in the arteries. However, red wine has also been shown to have a much higher level of resveratrol, the phytochemical that accomplishes those things. With the high amount of resveratrol, red wine has been proven to keep the blood stream clear of things that don’t belong.
Drinking more wine every day, like eating more chocolate, is not the answer though. The Mayo Clinic advises that alchohol should always be consumed in moderation, with women consuming no more than one drink (one five ounce glass of wine) each day. The American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute do not recommend that individuals begin consuming alcohol for the purpose of preventing heart disease because of the addictive nature of the content and the risk for diseases if consumed in high amounts regularly.
Known for its high fat content and salt levels, peanut butter is better for you than you may have been led to believe. The type of fat in peanut butter is monounsaturated, known for being able to reduce bad cholesterol. Peanut butter has Vitamin E and fills you up so you don’t eat as much, according to Tatiana Morales, reporting on The Early Show on CBS.
Walter C. Willett, M.D., a professor of nutrition at Havard School of Public Health, explains that peanut butter has fiber and minerals, including 200 milligrams of potassium. But if you buy unsalted peanut butter, it contains only 5 milligrams of sodium, not enough to stay in balance with the potassium. Willett also notes that many studies have demonstrated that those who regularly eat nuts or nut products like peanut butter were less likely to develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes later in life.
When purchasing peanut butter it is important to make sure you find peanut butter without partially hydrogenated oils. Although peanut butter is hard to find without that poison it is definitely worth the investigation.
The foods mentioned are in no way an answer to any health problems you may have and should never be consumed in large quantities. One important part of utilizing “bad” foods for good results is that if you consume wine, peanut butter, or dark chocolate, each needs to replace calories in your daily food consumption, not add to them. One 100 gram piece of dark chocolate contains more than 500 calories, and those calories are about one quarter of the normal amount needed by an average woman on a daily basis. So if you want to drink a glass of wine, leave out the cookie after lunch or the mozzarella sticks with dinner. And enjoy these treats while reaping their health benefits!