A little of what you fancy

Posted on 7 January 2015

They say that a little of what you fancy does you good – and you might be surprised to find out just how good these supposedly sinful things are for you.

Summer is always a time for a little bit of extra indulgence – and all the guilt that goes with it! We asked dietician Ilsabè Spoelstra about the food and drinks that are surprisingly good for you – in moderation, of course!

Alcohol
Red wine can protect you against cancer and heart disease, thanks to the antioxidant resveratrol, which is found in the skin of red wine grapes. (That’s why white wine isn’t as beneficial.) Resveratrol is suspected to also protect against Alzheimer’s and gum disease. Believe it or not, beer actually may have some health benefits too! Recent studies suggest that beer can help improve cardiovascular function, and light drinking of alcohol can help prevent blood from clotting and lower blood pressure.
How much? ‘The official recommendation is one glass per day for ladies, and a maximum of two glasses for men,’ says Ilsabè.

Coffee
Several studies have shown that caffeine can be helpful for more than just a morning kick-start. Drinking coffee may lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and caffeine has been shown to assist with fat burning. It does this through thermogenesis – the production of heat in the body.
How much? Coffee consumption seems to be a contentious issue. ‘It took me a lot of reading to come to the conclusion that up to four cups of good-quality coffee per day can contribute to health,’ says Ilsabè.

Chocolate
It could be the best news of the century: chocolate is good for you! A square or two of high-quality dark chocolate has been shown to reduce blood pressure – and can also protect against heart disease. Cacao is packed with antioxidant flavanols that help prevent certain cancers, and it may even increase blood flow to the brain, helping to prevent dementia.
How much? ‘Cacao is extremely healthy, so eat dark chocolate,’ says Ilsabè. ‘About four squares are enough. Let each block melt on your tongue so it’s more satisfying.’

Ilsabè has a few great tips in conclusion: ‘Don’t have a glass of wine and a beer and chocolate – it will be too much for many people’s metabolisms. Choose either wine or beer, and choose between chocolate and pudding. Never eat until you feel you’ve had too much, but enjoy your treats. Always eat consciously – otherwise you’ll just want more!’

The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.

Published in Nutrition

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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