Indulgence

Body benefit

Chocolate

Contains polyphenols (antioxidants) and flavonoids, which help prevent heart disease. The natural fat in cocoa doesn’t raise cholesterol levels—though fats added to chocolate bars may. Note: Not all chocolate is created equal—the darker the chocolate, the more beneficial nutrients it contains. Organically grown, minimally processed chocolate retains high flavonoid levels.

Cranberries

Aside from being an excellent source of immunity-enhancing vitamin C, cranberries and their juice may help prevent bladder infections.

Ginger

This warming spice acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and may keep colds at bay. It also alleviates arthritis pain, stomach upset, and chest congestion.

Nuts

Most nuts are high in protein, beneficial fats, vitamin E, trace minerals, and fiber. Although naturally high in fat, nuts have been shown in recent studies to reduce the risk of heart disease if eaten in moderation. Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds contain calcium. Even macadamia nuts can help lower cholesterol, according to new research. Note: Peanuts do not share the same benefits, because they are not nuts but legumes.

Pumpkin

An excellent source of beneficial carotenoids, including beta-carotene (vitamin A) and lutein, which protect against heart disease and cancer.

Red wine

Vitamin A is also anti-inflammatory and helps the body fight infections. The raw or roasted seeds provide vitamin E, iron, magnesium, zinc, and other immune-boosting nutrients.

Sweet potatoes

Like chocolate, red wine contains heart-smart polyphenols. It raises good cholesterol (HDL) levels and, in moderation, has been shown to decrease risk of heart disease. A rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber.

Sources: www.drweil.com; www.MayoClinic.com; Robert Rountree, MD; Journal of Nutrition, 2003, vol. 133, no. 4.