The good, the bad and the healthy

For cancer-fighting antioxidants, stroke-reducing flavonoids and a cocktail of vitamins, reach for beer, wine, steak and even chocolate

BEER: bad. Fruit: good. That's the common wisdom, but scientists are discovering that the truth behind many of our long-held attitudes towards food is not quite so clear-cut, and that many of the things we traditionally consider unhealthy actually have health benefits.So before you empty that last can of beer down the sink or give up your weekly chocolate treat for good, do your body a favour and consider this: beer contains antioxidants, which can cut your risk of cancer and heart disease. Just don't use that as your excuse to overindulge – because three beers rather than just one are more likely to have the opposite effect, according to researchers.

If your tastes tend towards the grape rather than the grain, red wine delivers the goods. Flavonoids, especially resveratrol, and the tannins it contains are thought to increase your 'good' cholesterol and decrease the 'bad'. Resveratrol has also been proven to improve blood flow in the brain by 30%, reducing the risk of stroke.As if that wasn't a good enough excuse to uncork the merlot, red wine can help keep gums healthy and may even reduce the risk of lung cancer – particularly among men. You're allowed one or two glasses a day – so don't go knocking back the whole bottle.

While we're on the drink, a pint of Guinness is an excellent source of iron. And even the dreaded cola may not be quite as bad for us as we think. Flat coke has been said to settle an upset stomach (don't use the fresh, fizzy stuff, though, as that could make matters worse). And it is also regularly consumed by army frogmen after a dive in potentially dirty seawater as it is said to kill all the bugs in their stomachs.

Lately we've been told to lay off the eggs because of their high level of cholesterol levels. But one egg provides 12% of your daily recommended protein, along with a cocktail of other goodies including vitamins A, B6, B12 and D, folate, iron, phosphorus and zinc.Check your cholesterol before increasing your egg intake because you could be suffering from high levels and not know it. Otherwise, two or three a week boiled, poached or scrambled (not fried) could give your health a real boost.

Beef, too, has been off the menu for a few years in many homes. But don't write off that juicy steak just yet. Beef is a good source of iron, protein and vitamins B3, B5, B6 and B12. It also provides two fifths of your daily needs for zinc – important for maintaining a healthy immune system. And, depending on the cut, it could even be lower in fat than chicken.

When it comes to good 'bad' food, however, chocolate is the daddy of them all. Like red wine, it contains flavonoids, which lower blood pressure and help prevent deep-vein thrombosis. It could also, ironically, help prevent tooth decay. Research at Osaka University in Japan has found the husks of the cocoa bean contain an antibacterial agent that fights plaque.
Unfortunately, these husks tend to be removed during the production of commercial chocolate bars, but at some point in the future they could be added back to make them tooth-friendly.

Source - Scotsman

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