Friday, August 10, 2012

Three Surprisingly Healthy "Unhealthy" Foods

In these times, basically everything we eat is going to poison us or cause cancer somehow and it seems like that is all anyone focuses on. However, the trend is changing to focus on the positives in food and I want to encourage this, so here is my contribution. Many foods we've been taught are unhealthy have surprising health benefits!

photo courtesy stockxchng
One of the happiest discoveries for sweet lovers was the benefits of chocolate. Of course, we all know this means "in moderation," but it's still nice to have permission to enjoy the yums! And, of course, dark chocolate has the greatest amount of health benefits.

What it helps (and how): It helps prevent tooth decay, it protects your skin, helps with depression by providing serotonin and stimulating endorphins, improves heart health, improves blood flow like aspirin, decreases stroke risk, has vital minerals, is full of fiber that helps you feel full, may help fight diabetes, lowers blood pressure (and thus, reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia), and can quiet coughs.

How much:  Well, no one is exactly sure. I've read anything from a square a day to a few pieces a week. So, that's not a box of chocolates a day, but you don't have to feel guilty about a little bit here and there.


photo courtesy stockxchng

Much maligned by dieters, coffee actually has many health properties.

What it helps (and how): Coffee may help reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, may lower stroke risk in women, lowers your risk of dementia and Alzheimer's, may reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancers (esophageal, pharyngeal, oral, breast, endometrial, prostate and liver), is possibly an effective treatment for ADHD (note: studies on caffeinism have been performed on neurotypical persons and cannot be used to contraindicate treatment for persons with ADHD), provides healthful antioxidants, may help reduce the risk of death from heart disease and may help men reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease (note: a recent study has found that it is a gene that activates the effects, not hormones as previously theorized).

How much: Well, that depends on the effects you're looking for, but moderation does not seem to be helpful with coffee benefits. Most studies found 2-6 cups of coffee a day were the magic numbers. For people with a normal reaction to caffeine, this might be unhelpful, as it can lead to caffeinism, however, only a few benefits were not found in decaf (ADHD, for example, is dependent upon the caffeine, and certain cancers are not protected for by the beans used in decaf brewing)!

photo courtesy stockxchng
The egg has bounced from one hand to the other--it's good for you! It's bad for you! Only eat the white! With all the mixed information on eggs, let's look at its benefits.

What it helps (and how): Eggs may help prevent macular degeneration (number one cause of age-related blindness) and cataracts, egg lecithin has a lot of anecdotal evidence showing a reduction of pain associated with loosened ligaments (particularly in pregnancy), eggs (from hens that eat bugs and weeds) are full of Omega 3 fatty acids that can help with depression, may help prevent breast cancer due to choline (this also helps regulate the brain--and is heaviest in the yolk), boost the immune system with naturally occurring vitamin D (though you'd need 10 to get your daily dose), may lower coronary risk, may help diets (and are part of a healthy diet) and help your hair and nails stay beautiful.

How much: Well, that depends on the rest of your diet. An egg contains 5g of fat, so two eggs is good for a low-fat diet, but studies have shown no difference in negative health outcomes between people who eat one a week and those who eat a few a day. So, keeping your caloric and fat needs in mind, you can judge how many are good for you at a time.

Tip: Eggs are healthiest when organic or at least farm fresh from chickens that roam outside, eating bugs and weeds with their feed. Caged, overproduced chicken eggs are going to have the least amount of healthy benefits. Despite the hype, color doesn't matter and is determined by the breed of the hen.

In reading up for this post, I found a lot of fascinating studies and articles on the benefits you get from everything from tea to bacon (yes, even bacon!). It's always nice to know that some of our vices aren't as terrible as we've been told.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep it civil and remember that my blog is not for debate. I have friends in all walks of life, so don't assume anything from individual posts! I do enjoy hearing from you, though :)