10 things that are suprisingly good for you

1. Chocolate.
Everyone knows that chocolate is good for you, although unfortunately the dark and bitter kind is better for you than the sweet milky kind. It contains chemicals called polyphenols that reduce the presence of free radicals, which cause cell and DNA damage. It also protects the heart. The Harvard School of Public Health studied amost 8,000 American men aged around 65 for a five-year period and found that those who eat chocolate and sweets up to three times a month live almost a year longer that those who eat too much or none at all. "As with most things in life, moderation seems to be paramount," the Harvard researchers wrote.

2. Red Wine.
Again, if you read a newspaper more than once a year, you'll have heard about the benefits of red wine, the "French Paradox" and the like. Like chocolate, polyphenols are the key - chemicals such as tannins and flavonoids in the grape skin and seeds that are powerful antioxidants. Also important are the procyanidins, which help to reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Another ingredient, resveratrol, slows ageing of the heart, bones, eyes and muscles and can even deter cataracts, at least in mice. As for chocolate, red wine must be consumed with moderation. Certain traditional red wines from southwest France, Sardinia and Crete appear to have the most magic ingredients.

3. Stress.
Long-term stress is definitely not good for you but in short bursts - say standing up to give a speech at a wedding - stress can help reinforce your immune system. Experts say that stressful situations prompt the body's "fight or flight" response, which helped early man cope with the threat of predators.

4. Ice cream.
Ice cream is low GI, which means it releases its sugar gradually into your blood afer you've eaten it, which means you're not left desperately craving for more. A 75g scoop of Ben and Jerry's Cookie Dough ice cream has just 114 calories and 6g of fat against 511 calories and 43g of fat for a slice of cheesecake.

5. White bread.
Common wisdom has it that wholemeal bread is better for you, but in fact white bread flour is fortified with calcium and iron as well as B1 and niacin. And because white bread has less fibre, it means that more of the calcium is absorbed. You should try to give the kids wholemeal as a rule but white bread does have some nutritional benefits.

6. Work.
Hard work never killed anyone, goes the saying. Except in Japan, of course, where it kills dozens of people every year. Curiously, however, the experts say that work helps keep you healthy, not just giving you enough money to eat and fulfil your basic needs but reinforcing your sense of social worth and extending your life expectancy.

7. Coffee
Like red wine and chocolate, coffee contains antioxidates and tannins that help protect the heart and unblock the arteries. It's also good for the liver - one cup per day cuts the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis by 20 per cent; four cups a day reduces the risk by 80 per cent, which is good news if you're on a red wine diet.

8. Baked beans.
Despite soaring commodity costs, baked beans are still relatively cheap and are generally considered to be good for the heart. They also make you flatulent.

9. Guinness.
Makers of the Irish stout used to market it under the slogan "Guinness is good for you" - until they were told to desist. Research published in 2003 from the University of Wisconsin suggests that they were right all along: a pint of the black stuff is as effective as an asprin in preventing blood clots, and much tastier. Again, it's all about antioxidants.

10 Newspaper lists.
Counter-intuitive, this one, and a bit controversial. Experts are divided but anecdotal evidence suggests that reading long lists in newspapers can help reduce stress and the risk of "Karoshi" - the Japanese term for death by overwork. They're definitely good for newspapers: give a lowly-paid researcher or journalist access to a computer terminal, show them how to use Google and Wikipedia and you're sorted. On a slow news day, lists help fill up space in the Dead Wood Edition. Clever website editors commission very long ones to provide extra "hits" in the silly season, although they rarely bother reading right down to the final paragraph.

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[via timesonline.co.uk]

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