The good news is that you do not have to completely cut out some of your favorite foods to achieve your goal. Antioxidants are known to help the body protect against damage from free radicals, which contribute to aging and cardiovascular disease. Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant found in plant-based foods and beverage, including coffee, tea, red wine and chocolate.
In celebration of February’s National Heart Month we looked into some of the healthy benefits of some of our most beloved treats.
CHOCOLATE: Studies show that chocolate consumption may lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. Dark chocolate is a potent antioxidant. The darker the chocolate,the more likely it is to contain high levels of flavonoids. Dark chocolate can also aid digestion after a meal.
CHEESE: Calcium is essential to maintaining strong and healthy bones and cheese is rich in the nutrient. Calcium is also necessary for keeping your teeth healthy and preventing cavities. In addition to calcium, cheese contains Vitamin D, which helps maintain strong bones and is linked to prevention of osteoporosis and hyper-tension. Opt for natural, gourmet-style cheeses, as highly processed cheeses may contain preservatives, trans fats and artificial coloring.
RED WINE: Studies have shown that wine contains antioxidants such as polyphenols, which can protect the lining of coronary blood vessels. Moderate consumption of red wine is also suggested to lower the risk of coronary heart disease. Studies have also suggested that red wine can also reduce cholesterol, the formation of blood clots, and the risk of kidney stones.
COFFEE: Research indicates that coffee not only helps clear the mind but it also provides more healthful antioxidants than any other food or beverage in the American diet. Studies suggest that coffee can lower the risk for type 2 diabetes, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and prostate cancer.
TEA: Just like coffee, both green tea and black tea are known to improve alertness and reduce the risk of heart disease. They also help maintain blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity, which is vital in the treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes.
You can still indulge in some of your favorite foods and beverages — just enjoy in moderation for a great start to a happy and healthy new year. – Chad Cohen