All the Decadent Stuff That’s Actually Good for You
Spark up the grill, pour a glass of Champagne, and light up a joint. Turns out a lot of ‘bad’ stuff isn’t so bad for you after all.
Got champagne dreams on a beer budget? Then it might be time to start conserving your pennies, because research has found the French fizz is good for your health. Scientists have confirmed that a mere glass or two of champers per week could slow the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s, with handy compounds nestled in the booze proving to be beneficial for the brain. It’s the stuff lavish, unaffordable aspirations were made of.
Pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes were hailed for their health benefits in the University of Reading study, during which rats who consumed sparkling wine in small doses were able to perform better in memory tests. The bubbly stuff is also rich in polyphenols—antioxidants which reduce blood pressure—and two glasses a day can apparently lower your risk of having a stroke.
So what other tasty treats have we been denying ourselves of for no good reason? Here’s the lowdown:
Milk chocolate has long been cast aside as the devil’s spawn, but a 12-year study has shown it’s not just its bitter black counterpart that can do your body some good. People who ate up to 100g of the stuff each day were found to have an 11 percent lower chance of a heart attack, and that snacking on one or two chunks daily could improve concentration. Just like champagne, it’s full of antioxidant polyphenol, and it has also been credited with fighting off the sniffles thanks to its epicatechin content, which kicks the body’s natural propensity for detoxing into gear.
Coffee with butter
Butter: yes. Coffee: yes. Drinking the two in a single receptacle? If you say so, health nuts. Your morning cup of joe, while frequently dissed for screwing with your bones and kidneys, has more recently been found to protect against Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease—a win for the world’s legions of bleary-eyed workers. And the yellow stuff, while more commonly associated with glossy sauces and all of the cakes we’re advised to avoid, made headlines a few months back after decades-old warnings over its fat content were found to have been ill-judged. Dietary advice dating back to 1976 which supported ditching butter and full-fat milk should never have been introduced, experts have claimed—more than three decades after shifting eating habits and the “destruction of the dairy industry.” Reduced- cholesterol alternatives such as low fat spreads have since been blamed for our uptake in carb consumption and for misguiding people over their influence on heart health.
Fire up the grill: red meat is back on the menu. It’s come under fire for aeons due to links with heart disease and bowel cancer but, following the hysterical misinterpretation of the World Health Organization’s anti-bacon announcement, people have accepted it isn’t actually all that bad. Protein-rich and loaded with iron, selenium, and zinc, its high Vitamin A, B and D content is also praised for supporting the central nervous system, and strengthening bones, teeth, and vision.
Wine. Wine makes you feel fine. It rhymes, therefore it must be true, as we know is the case with all of the best medical advice. But even though one of our favorite grape formulations (we haven’t forgotten you, Sun-Maid lady) is often on the receiving end of criticism, it contains a number of properties that really aren’t all that bad. A study from June showed that resveratrol—an ingredient found in grapes and red wine (as well as Real Housewives of Orange County scandals)—can turn excess weight into calorie burning “brown” fat: the energy burning, heat-producing version of its white equivalent. A Korean study three years earlier examined piceatannol, another red grape compound which is “able to block cellular processes that allow fat cells to develop,” while other research shows that age-induced memory deterioration can also be slowed by a tipple.
We’ve covered alcohol and food, so that only leaves us with one final stop on our path to so-bad-it’s-good-ness: drugs. While possession of marijuana is still illegal in numerous states and countries around the world, a little herb-dabbling may actually kill cancer cells. Cannabinoids, the active constituents of cannabis, “may be useful in treating the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment,” and were also found to minimize the spread of tumors in a study conducted on mice. Psychiatrists have also suggested that LSD and other psychedelics could be crucial in treating anxiety and addiction, so perhaps it’s not just weed that could do with being re-evaluated.
The moral of the story is: reclassify everything and let’s enjoy all of it in moderation, or alternatively, everything at once, a moderate amount of the time.