Every few months you see a new article drop about how “X Is Secretly Good For You!” which generally takes social media by storm. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of these articles touting the benefits of wine, beer, chocolate, coffee, and a thousand other things that the healthcare industry has been telling you for years to avoid because they’re bad for you. Were our doctors wrong all along? Is the article incorrect? How can it be both?
The truth of almost all these things is there are certainly things within them that can actually be beneficial to our health. Although to clarify, just because something has chemicals with possible human benefits does not automatically make it good for us. Some studies have even found that in very select quantities, intaking these specific foods and drinks actually provide enough of those chemicals to have a benefit without risking the negative side effects that many of them come with.
While there is a grain of truth to the concept that a cup of coffee or a glass of wine a day can have benefits, how that is applied matters. For coffee, preparation is a huge factor. While some do take their coffee black, the majority prefer the novelty concoctions of the day at their local shops. Or like myself need to add copious sugar to make the drink palatable. At a certain point, this low-calorie beverage cannot be considered low-calorie anymore if we have added so much flavoring. The touted benefit of reducing risk of diabetes/heart disease gets flipped as we are taking in more sugar. Chocolate can be viewed the same way. While there are certainly protective benefits to dark chocolate specifically, the fair amount of sugar and chocolate is easy to over consume negating that positive effect.
Wine and beer have similarly been “un-demonized” with recent articles. However, it is still important to recognize that alcoholic beverages consumed at a rate of 10 or more per week can have severely detrimental effects on our overall health. The recommendation for a glass of wine a night walks this line very very finely. Also, depending on your knowledge of a proper pour, you could easily hit the 10-glass mark without even knowing it.
Does any of this mean you should not drink coffee, or that you need to avoid drinking wine? Of course not! And regulated or occasional intake could certainly have some protective effects! But, before we jump right on the train to partake, it’s important to look specifically at the studies done on any particular protective effect and find out how much is okay! What does a cup of coffee a day mean? How full is that one glass of red wine? How much chocolate is protective and how much is overboard? And once you know, it’s just as important to stick with it!