Sip, Snack, and Squeeze Your Way to Better Health: The Surprising Truth about Chocolate, Coffee, and Orange Juice

You probably already know that a diet rich in vegetarian, raw foods is good for your health. But did you know there are some surprisingly healthy foods that you might never have considered adding to your menu? Incorporating more chocolate, coffee, and orange juice into your meals will give your well-being a considerable boost.

Chocolaty Health

Many of us might have laughed at the health claims made about chocolate. After all, standard store-bought chocolate is processed and made with refined sugar. However, even though many of the antioxidant flavonoids found in raw cacao are depleted, processed chocolate still offers some clear health benefits.

For instance, a meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal in 2011 indicated that those who consumed the highest levels of chocolate had a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29% reduction in stroke compared to those who consumed the least.

Additional data suggests that chocolate consumption can also lower blood pressure and heart disease risk. A large European study found that people in the top range of chocolate consumers had a 27% reduced risk of heart attack and a 48% lower risk of stroke compared to those who hardly ever indulged.

Moreover, flavonoids in chocolate can decrease cholesterol, lower blood pressure, inhibit sticky platelets, and improve blood flow to vital organs. Dark chocolate has been found to be superior to milk chocolate in terms of health benefits. Eating 1-ounce portions of chocolate several times a week can lower your risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

A Healthy Cup of Coffee

Research on the health impacts of coffee has produced mixed results. While one 1989 study found a slight increase in cardiovascular disease risk among people who consumed more than four cups of coffee a day, it also found a strong correlation between decaffeinated coffee consumption and heart disease risk. However, the same year, another study reported that coffee consumption of more than eight cups per day actually decreased the risk of a first heart attack by 67 percent.

More recent studies have mostly found that moderate consumption of coffee benefits health. In 1996, the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association published an analysis of the Nurses’ Health Study, which showed no connection between heart disease and coffee consumption among the 85,747 women who were followed for 10 years.

In 2008, a study showed a strong heart-protective association for coffee consumption in elderly subjects, with a 43 percent reduction in heart disease for people who drank regular coffee.

A 2010 Kaiser Permanente study showed that drinking more than four cups of coffee daily produced an 18 percent reduction in hospitalizations for heart rhythm disturbances—however, decaf coffee did not reduce the risk, indicating that the protection came from the caffeine.

Even more interesting, two large studies have found a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s disease among coffee drinkers. One study found that both coffee and tea consumption were associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Orange Juice Fights Inflammation

While most people assume that only fresh-juiced oranges can produce clear health benefits, a 2010 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that store-bought orange juice, even from concentrate, actually offers significant health benefits as well.

Drinking orange juice with your meals helps to counter the pro-inflammatory effects of high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods, which have been found to induce a damaging cytokine-signaling protein that promotes insulin resistance. This research implies that orange juice could help lower the risk of insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

In conclusion, while maintaining a healthy diet of primarily raw, vegetarian foods is always a good idea, incorporating moderate amounts of chocolate, coffee, and orange juice can provide an added boost to your overall well-being.