You'd think a crew of scientists would be the last people to justify our lavish food habits and many vices, but 2016 was the year of proving us wrong. From cheese to pasta to coffee—not even the five-second rule was safe from scientific examination.
So rather than throw out everything that brings you joy as you set your New Year's resolutions, let this be the year you learn how to achieve your health-oriented goals while still having a good time.
Don't give up sugar . . .
. . . Just use a better type. Sugar consumption is at an all-time high, and health experts claim it can lead to metabolic issues and even be more likely to cause heart disease than high cholesterol. But there are ways to give in without doing as much damage to your health. Try low-glycemic alternatives like coconut sugar and agave, or be the first of your friends to start using kokuto, a wholesome sweetener ubiquitous to Okinawan cooking.
Don't give up coffee . . .
. . . Caffeinate wisely. Instead of going cold turkey, hack your schedule. There's an optimal time to drink coffee, according to science, so try consuming it between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. or 1:30 and 5 p.m., rather than right when you wake up in the morning. And if you do end up hitting an afternoon wall, embrace the art of the coffee nap: Down a mug; take a 20-minute nap while the caffeine sets in; wake up recharged and ready to go. Plus, some studies say coffee consumption can be linked to a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease and even Parkinson's.
Don't give up dairy . . .
. . . It's good for your heart. This isn't a dream; this is a study recently published by researchers at Penn State University who concluded that dairy may cancel out the cardiovascular disease-causing high levels of sodium found in various cheeses.
Separately, it's not just any cheese you should eat—it's high-fat cheese. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that participants who ate regular- and reduced-fat cheeses had no discernable difference in cholesterol, blood pressure and waist size from one another.
Don't give up alcohol . . .
. . . Knock it back in moderation. Pounding numerous Long Island Iced Teas on the regular isn't doing you any favors, but some types of alcohol can actually be beneficial to your health—or at least not as bad for it. Hoppy beer is better for your liver than other types of beer, so hit the IPAs like they're green juice.
We won't go so far as to say a glass of wine has the same effect as a sweat session at the gym, but even nutritionists say that wine should be considered healthy. Just look at the highly touted Mediterranean diet. On Ikaria, the Greek island "where people forget to die," locals have wine with breakfast. Wine sends a signal to your body to soak up more flavonoids, which are a type of antioxidant found in plants—and red wine—that can combat ailments like heart disease and cancer.
Don't give up carbs . . .
. . . Just carb thoughtfully. And, no, we're not asking you to eat sweet potato toast. Italian scientists claim that eating pasta is associated with a lower BMI, and the USDA calls whole grains "vital for the health and maintenance of our bodies."
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