Food for Thought: Your favorite vices might actually be good for you
Posted by Lauren Rugani on February 11, 2010
Several reports came out this week claiming that some of our favorite edible indulgences may not be so bad for us after all. Perhaps strategically released in time for Valentine’s Day, or perhaps just a cosmic coincidence, whether we are sharing wine and chocolate with our special someone or drinking alone to forget that we are single, we might actually be increasing our chances of living a healthier life.
Research conducted at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, analyzed three studies that related chocolate consumption to risk of stroke. One found that people who ate at least one serving of chocolate per week were 22 percent less likely to have a stroke than people who didn’t eat any chocolate. Another found that people who ate 50g of chocolate once a week were 46 percent less likely to die after a stroke than those who ate no chocolate. The third study found no link between eating chocolate and risk of stroke. Of course, the researchers note that it is yet to be determined whether chocolate truly lowers risk, or healthier people are just more likely to eat chocolate. You know, the correlation ≠causation disclaimer. But chocolate is full of flavonoids, antioxidants that might have a protective effect against stroke, and I, for one, am all for doing this research.
Eating dark chocolate may also be an advantage when it comes to fighting cancer. William Li, the head of the Angiogenesis Foundation, announced this week that dark chocolate and red grapes (the key ingredient in red wine) will be added to a list of foods that starve cancer, including blueberries, soy, garlic and tea. These and other foods shut off blood supplies to tumors, which eventually causes their death, and have even proven more effective than current anti-angiogenesis drugs. The foods also have properties that melt away fat, and could have additional health benefits. Providing these simple comestibles to underdeveloped countries could also help battle cancer where drug treatments are too expensive.
In other news, a few beers a day could be good for your bone health. UC Davis professor Charles Bamforth analyzed 100 beers and found a significant amount of silicon in all of them, with pale ales having the most, followed by dark malts, wheat beer, and light beers. Silicon is found in raw foods like grains and fruit, and previous studies have shown that people who consume more silicon in their diets have up to a 10 percent higher bone mass density in their hips. But the risks increase with consumption: while one or two beers per day decrease your risk of bone fracture (which is good, considering an increased beer intake also increases your risk of falling), more than three drinks per day has been linked to osteoporosis. Again, researchers don’t condone even moderate drinking, at least until they perform more conclusive tests.
So this weekend, worry about love, not libations.