Cheers! Drink to your health
We are what we drink. Researchers looked into the health effects of 4 of the most favorite drinks in the Western world besides water – tea, coffee, cocoa, and wine. Here are the results.
- Tea – Dutch researchers reported that tea has beneficial effects on your heart. Green tea is especially rich in strong oxidants flavonols and catechins that provide protection against cardiovascular disease.
- Coffee – “What about coffee?“, the caffeine addicts would ask. Greek researchers reported that coffee does not necessarily increase your risk for developing cardiovascular disease. However, coffee has been observed to increase blood pressure and can have some adverse effects when combined with cigarette smoking. Also, the health effects of coffee can vary depending on the type of coffee and the preparation method. In other words, an Arabica caf? latt? might have a different effect compared to a Robusta cappuccino.
- Chocolate – When it comes to chocolate, the darker, the better. Who else but researchers from the land of chocolate – Switzerland – should report about the positive effects of cocoa? Cocoa benefits your cardiovascular health by “lowering blood pressure, improved endothelial function, improved insulin sensitivity and platelet function.” Take note that maximum effects come from pure, unprocessed cocoa and not necessarily from the chocolates we buy from Swiss confectioners. During the processing of cacao, some of its antioxidant properties are lost. Dark chocolate is definitely much healthier than milk chocolate or white chocolate.
- Wine – Now, this list won’t be complete without wine, right? Italian researchers reported that low to moderate alcohol consumption reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease. Wine, especially red wine, is rich with resveratrol and the antioxidants flavonoids and melatonin. Resveratrol which comes from the skin of red grapes has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. For maximum cardiovascular benefit, 1 to 2 glasses of wine per day for women are recommended and 2 to 4 glasses per day for men. However, you shouldn’t forget that excessive alcohol can lead to major health problems.
In conclusion, tea, cocoa, and wine have beneficial effects on your cardiovascular health. The effect of coffee, however, is not clear and needs to be studied more. A final recommendation from heart experts is as follows:
Menendez, S.S. The gourmand’s heart – a bitter sweet relationship? Presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2008 held in Munich, Germany last August 30 to September 3.