6 Indulgences and Their Health Benefits

Jennifer Purdie
by Jennifer Purdie
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6 Indulgences and Their Health Benefits

With holiday parties filling your calendar and treats at every turn, you’re going to need willpower of steel to get through the season. That said, some indulgences are healthier than others, and it’s best not to label food as good or bad anyway.

Here, six typical indulgences that offer enough of a health benefit to enjoy (within reason):

In a June 2018 study from JAMA Ophthalmology, participants experienced small sight improvements for at least two hours after eating a dark chocolate bar. This included a 40% improvement in contrast sensitivity, possibly due to increased blood flow.

After a heavy meal, a little peppermint candy can help with dietary issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive problems. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says peppermint oil, an ingredient found in the treat, is a safe dietary supplement for health issues like IBS. Bonus: Sucking on a peppermint candy might make you less likely to reach for a calorie-laden dessert.

In an August 2018 study published in Ophthalmology, researchers found following a Mediterranean diet could considerably lessen your risk of a significant cause of blindness. In the study, experts analyzed data from almost 5,000 people ages 55 and older and the found those who adopted a Mediterranean diet were 41% less likely to develop late-stage, age-related macular degeneration — a leading cause of vision loss — than people who didn’t follow the diet.

When hitting the holiday party circuit, opt for shrimp cocktail instead of fried appetizers, like egg rolls, says Carol Aguirre, MS, RD. Not only are they a healthier choice (31 calories for four pieces with cocktail sauce), you may benefit from shrimp’s generous amount of selenium. These crustaceans contain about 54% of the daily recommendation of selenium per 100 grams. In the journal Lancet, a selenium deficiency was linked to adverse mood states. If you find yourself in a mental downward spiral, upping your selenium intake can help fight the sorrow.

Cranberries, according to a 2016 article published in Advances in Nutrition, helps promote favorable gut health, which may aid digestion. Instead of buying cranberry sauce in a can, make your own. It’s an easy dish and better for you because you can limit how much sugar you add, which makes it healthier and more gut friendly.

Perhaps you avoid dairy products, or stay away from yogurt due to its sugar content, but yogurt can actually help you lose weight. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers examined the role this dairy treat played in weight maintenance. They found individuals with higher yogurt consumption gained less weight over time as compared to those on a control diet. Perhaps yogurt fed the “sweet tooths” in a healthy way. Make sure to read labels carefully and choose Greek yogurt or yogurt lower in added sugar but with real full fat instead.

About the Author

Jennifer Purdie
Jennifer Purdie
Jennifer is a Southern California-based freelance writer who covers topics such as health, fitness, lifestyle and travel for both national and regional publications. She runs marathons across the world and is an Ironman finisher. She is also a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. You can follow her on Twitter @jenpurdie.

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