Given all the swirling negativity around healthcare, politics and media, I felt that it was my duty to provide the public service of giving people a way to be happy again. I mean seriously, there has to be some reason to keep on keepin’ on during these difficult times, right?
Since our collective national depression is likely driving all of us to drinking and eating as therapy, and since so much is made of how we should eat only kale and fish raised by environmentally-sound fairy princesses or die a miserable death, I wanted to give you signs that we can, in fact, find reasons for joy that are even science-based. You’re welcome.
So ready? Here they are, in order, four reasons to live that will also improve your health:
• Butter may be good for you (and isn’t bad for you)
• Dark chocolate reduces blood pressure
• Eating ice cream for breakfast makes you smarter
• Piña coladas can improve cardiovascular health
I know you are all now saying to yourself, “Yeah, I wish.” But actual scientists have found these to be factual assertions worthy of reinforcing our already satisfying (but probably secret) pleasures. It’s ok to now come out into the open, buttered bread in one hand, piña colada in the other, with your tummy fully distended from your breakfast of Ben & Jerry’s omelet (sans eggs but with fudge topping). I realize scientists are a breed in question who might soon become subject to some type of Executive Order barring them from using calculators or wearing pocket protectors in public, but until that happens, here’s what they have to say:
Here Comes the Butter, Baby: Americans eat, on average, 23 sticks of butter per year. I’ll wait for you to either cringe or shrug your shoulders and admit that’s your typical February. But for those who hide our butter consumption even from our families, a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE provides us with reason to spread in public. The study analyzed nine papers that included more than 600,000 people and concluded that consuming butter is not linked to a higher risk for heart disease and strong evidence that people who ate butter daily had a 4% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Can I get a hallelujah?
Dark Chocolate Is for Heart Lovers: It has long been known that dark chocolate has some valuable properties, but since Valentine’s Day is this week, I want to remind you that even the lofty Brigham and Women’s Hospital is a believer that “chocolate consumption is inversely associated with prevalent coronary heart disease.” This finding is based on the Brigham’s research on the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Family Heart Study. Other studies have correlated dark chocolate consumption with lower blood pressure. Is there a definitive explanation for this connection? No. But who cares, really? Happy Valentine’s Day.
Eating Ice Cream for Breakfast Makes You Smarter: A scientist, or should I say superhero, at Tokyo’s Kyorin University, has carried out a series of clinical trials in which test subjects were required to eat ice cream immediately after waking up. They were then subjected to series of online mental exercises. The good news: “Compared to a group that had not eaten ice cream, Prof Koga’s subjects exhibited faster reaction times and better information-processing capabilities.” In fact, there have been other studies showing that ice cream has beneficial effects and directly contributes to being happier. I am pretty sure I could have told the researchers that without a clinical study, but hey, nothing like having proof on your side in the age of medical evidence. Waiter, make mine a double scoop.
Pina Coladas are Good for Body, Mind and Spirit: So let’s break this down into the component parts:
- Clear evidence suggests that coconut is a highly beneficial food, correlated with lower heart disease
- Pineapple is loaded with vitamins, minerals and even fiber. It has unique qualities, like bromelain, that are correlated with reduced incidence of cancer
- Rum is, as we all know, an alcoholic beverage and alcohol consumption, in moderation, has been generally considered at least neutral if not beneficial, particularly for vascular health and especially for women. Some claim it can aid in resisting the common cold (even pirates knew that), reducing Alzheimer’s risk and combat peripheral vascular disease. It is also considered a good cure for anxiety (yeah, well, everyone knows that one).
So while we all thought it was the Hawaiian vacation that was good for you, it may actually be the piña coladas. Which is perfect since we have all been caught in the rain here in California lately. If you don’t get that reference, please don’t tell me.
And thus, in those moments when you are watching the news and raging against the machine, consider the following prescription: eat ice cream with hot fudge (dark), lick a stick of butter and down it with a piña colada. And turn off the news. You do not need to pay a doctor for this advice, thus avoiding a large co-pay and potential visit by the death panel. And more importantly, you will feel better in no time and may even live long enough to feel good for all the right reasons.