Tasty treats that are Surprisingly Healthy

We know we should be eating fruits, vegetables and probably quinoa if we can pronounce it. But we don’t always want to. Sometimes all we want to do is sit in front of the TV eating chocolate and drinking tea.

Actually, there are health benefits in many of the foods that we traditionally think aren’t good for us. So next time you feel like a treat, indulge yourself and polish your halo!

Milk Chocolate

The stories about dark chocolate have been around for years. Saintly people everywhere swear by their two squares of good quality dark chocolate a day. What if you can’t stand dark chocolate? Could you get away with a bit of milk chocolate and still call your diet healthy?

Yes.

A 12-year study involving 21,000 people showed that scoffing chocolate, milky varieties included, can cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes. A bar of milk chocolate, researchers said, is just as good for the heart as dark. All chocolate contains flavonoids which can help stimulate blood flow by mopping up damaging substances called free radicals that lead to heart disease and strokes. In more good news, from the British Journal of Cancer, other types of antioxidants in chocolate can boost your immune system, and a substance called epicatechin activates our natural detoxification processes to get rid of colds and coughs. It’s still worth choosing the better brands over cheap chocolate and dark is better still. But you needn’t feel guilty for that Green & Black’s habit any more…

Coffee

Coffee is one of the things that we’re always told to cut down on, but for most of us the benefits of our caffeine habit outweigh the disadvantages. As well as being our wake-up juice of choice, coffee can also speed up our metabolism, making us more energetic and burning fat. The benefits don’t stop there. In observational studies, coffee has been repeatedly connected to a lower risk of diabetes. Studies have shown a reduction in risk that ranged from 23 per cent all the way up to 67 per cent.

Don’t put your mugs down yet; coffee is also associated with a much lower risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases. And multiple studies have shown that if you drink coffee, you reduce your risk of liver cirrhosis by as much as 80 per cent – four or more cups being the optimum amount to aim for. Who fancies a trip to Costa?

Cheese and butter

A thick slice of cheese on toast is an absolute winter treat but the experts have been warning us about dairy for a long time. Cheese has been in the firing line for not just being dairy, but also being fatty and sometimes salty and processed. Fear not, a paper published in the British Medical Journal has confirmed it’s safe to eat cheese and the social pariah that was butter once again. In the case of butter, the paper showed that choosing vegetable or sunflower oil-based spreads instead of real butter made absolutely no difference to people’s risk of heart disease. A 2014 study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology has good news too – it revealed that the saturated fats in dairy foods like cheese and butter can actually reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Next time you feel like indulging yourself, why not pick up a mug of coffee, and have something tasty with it? Life isn’t all about denial and if these aren’t good reasons to eat your favourite foods, we don’t know what is.

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