A Little Bit of Vice Can Be Nice!

No need to take a double take. Somethings that you may be avoiding can be beneficial when enjoyed in moderation. Of course, moderation is the key to reaping the health benefits. As in most cases a little can go a long way and anything beyond that may be harmful. Here are some little indulgences that you might want to consider taking off your new year's resolution "no no" list.

This has always seemed like the one "unhealthy" habit I could never quit, but there is growing evidence which says I don't have to. Like tea and berries, coffee is rich in phenolic phytochemicals; specifically caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid, which have strong antioxidant properties. These compounds may be responsible for coffee consumption and the reduction in many forms of cancer including melanoma, colorectal and prostate cancers. But what about the caffeine? The caffeine of coffee has actually been show to inhibit the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain that can lead to Alzheimers. In fact, one study showed people who drank three to five cups daily decreased their risk for Alzheimer's disease by about 64 percent. This decrease in amyloid may also explain why coffee drinkers are 50% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-coffee drinkers. Although these are great benefits, if you have chronic insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure, and stomach ulcers, coffee may not be the right vice for you.

Before you order your second double martini, you should know not all alcoholic beverages or quantities are created equal. Moderate consumption of wine, specifically red, however has been shown to have promising health benefits. This is largely in part due to its various antioxidant compounds. The most famous of which is resveratrol that has been linked to longevity, DNA repair, and insulin secretion, thus explaining the lower risk in type II diabetes, prostate cancer and colon cancer in moderate red wine drinkers. Wine also contains procyanidins, which keep blood vessels healthy and reduces the stickiness of blood platelets allowing a good blood supply to the brain. This may be why red wine drinkers have been shown to have a 23% lower risk of developing dementia in comparison to nondrinkers. Recently another compound, ellagic acid, in wine has been shown to possibly improve liver function in overweight people. Moderation is definitely the key as with overconsumption the health benefits drop off dramatically in favor of the risks. For women that is no more than one medium glass (~6oz) per day and men no more than one large or two small glasses (~8oz) per day.

You might want to rethink eliminating chocolate as part of your New Year's weight loss plan. A recent study found that people who regularly ate chocolate several times a week were actually leaner than those that didn't with exercise and daily caloric intake being equal. This might be due to the fact that certain polyphenols potentially inhibit pancreatic lipase, which digests dietary fat thus decreasing fat absorption. Also the epicatechins of chocolate increase capillaries and mitochondria, which improves energy metabolism. If this wasn't good enough news, dark chocolate has been shown to improve memory and decrease age related cognitive decline as well as lower blood pressure. Definitely the darker the better so aim for 85% dark chocolate or (non dutch processed) cocoa powder as most of the epicatechins have been processed out of milk chocolate.

I hope I didn't make you blush but your bedroom activities could lead to big health benefits. First before you freak out about cold and flu season you might consider getting frisky. People who have sex at least 1-2 times a week have been shown to have significantly higher levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA). Your IgA immune system is your body's first line of defense. In addition, contractions during orgasm can strengthen pelvic floor muscles helping with urinary incontinence. It's also a heart healthy activity and studies have shown men who had sex at least twice a week were 45% less likely to develop heart disease. If your single, don't worry as there is almost as much benefit with solo play.