Forget popping supplements and visits to the health food store: evidence is pointing towards the fact that a little bit of what you fancy does you good.
Here are five treats that have more going for them than you might think they have.
Flavonoid-rich chocolate should help to protect against heart disease while its antioxidant properties are reported to be cancer busting too. According to the most recent reports, our favourite sneaky snack even has anti-ageing powers. Go for dark chocolate with upwards of 70% cocoa solids for the real benefits.
We all know that too much alcohol is seriously bad news, but the French know a thing or two about the healthy side of a little tipple. The skins and seeds of red wine grapes contain antioxidants, flavonoids and tannins which can help to lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. Another ingredient, resveratol, slows down ageing in the bones, eyes and muscles. Certain wines from France and Sardinia appear to be the most useful, but as with chocolate, it is important to keep alcohol consumption low.
This news probably made Mr Starbuck’s day – coffee isn’t all bad for you! In fact, the antioxidants in the coffee bean unclog the arteries and are good for the old ticker. While overindulgence can cause thumping headaches, scientists in Italy say it can in fact cure them, and help the liver by preventing gallstones and cirrhosis – enough excuse to hail it as the perfect hangover remedy. Avoid overdoing it and drink freshly ground and brewed espresso for maximum benefit.
Rarely a day goes by during the summer months when we aren’t bombarded with stories about the dangers of the sun. But let’s not forget that when you’re sensible about it, sunshine does great things for you. So slap on that sunscreen and get out there to soak up some vitamin D, which provides the best protection possible from colds and flu and boosts endorphins, your feel-good hormones – just twenty minutes in the sun every day can really lift your mood.
The ad-men weren’t kidding when they said Guinness was good for you. In light of recent advice that we shouldn’t be taking aspirin as a matter of course to avoid heart attacks, it looks like a Guinness a day could be on call to keep the doctor away. Research has proved that the black stuff works as well as low dose aspirin at keeping clots and heart attacks at bay. Believed to be high in iron, at one time pregnant women and nursing mothers were told to drink Guinness too, though advice now says otherwise.