Health & Fitness

Sweet indulgences: Holiday goodies with health benefits

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GEOFFREY ROSS Author: Elle Canada Credits: GEOFFREY ROSS

Health & Fitness

Sweet indulgences: Holiday goodies with health benefits

By:
Three reasons why red wine is good for you

1. Red wine can...make your heart happier
Fact: According to a review from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, moderate intake of red wine can decrease your risk of heart disease by up to 40 percent.

Why this works: The antioxidants found in red wine help increase good cholesterol (HDL), lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and prevent clogged arteries (which is the leading cause of heart attacks).

2. Red wine can...make you slimmer
Fact: Having a glass of wine daily has been shown to help women cut down on belly fat and maintain a healthy weight.

Why this works: Research conducted at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston shows that people who drink moderate amounts of wine regularly metabolize the alcohol differently from those who restrict their booze intake to a raging night out on the weekend. Women who had a glass of wine with dinner were also shown to consume fewer calories on average than those who opted for a virgin drink.

3. Red wine can...make you smarter
Fact: No, the level of inebriation that led you to jump onstage at your local pub for a little Olivia Newton John karaoke was not a wise decision. But, aside from the inevitable YouTube upload by "friends," it's not all bad. As research from Loyola University in Chicago found, moderate consumption that leads to a slight buzz can prevent cognitive decline and your chances of developing dementia (including Alzheimer's) by 23 percent.

Why this works: Not only does alcohol boost good cholesterol (and therefore blood flow to the brain) but research suggests that it "toughens" brain cells. (It causes slight stress by dilating calcium channels and damaging the dendrites, which are the branched-out antennas of the neurons that receive electrical inputs.) This toughening may make brain cells resilient to major traumas that occur later in life and may cause dementia.

The Skinny
The brainchild of reality-television star Bethenny Frankel, Skinnygirl cocktails (so named for the 100 calories per 125 mL serving) are a delicious way to toast the holiday season without worrying about the dreaded post-party bloat.

Our choice cocktail? The tart White Cranberry Cosmo. Sweetened with natural agave nectar, it's ideal to serve at your annual Christmas party. (Even if a guest spills some on your cream chaise, it won't stain!) Skinnygirl White Cranberry Cosmo Cocktail ($15.95, at liquor stores)

Cake Walk
Known for producing wines with top aromas of chocolate, blackberries and red fruit, the California-based Cupcake Vineyards bottles tastes reminiscent of our favourite pastries and baked goods.

Not only will these luxe wines satisfy your sweet tooth but there are health benefits from sipping a glass of red. Cupcake Vineyards Red Velvet ($14.95, at liquor stores)

Five reasons why we love Awake Chocolate Bars

1. These caffeine-packed bars give you the same boost as a cup of coffee without the bad breath or stained teeth.

2. Who doesn't want to eat a chocolate bar first thing in the morning?

3. Stow them in your gym bag; there's something satisfying (and rebellious) about noshing on a chocolate bar to power up for a workout.

4. Snacking on chocolate may prevent winter coughs and colds, suggests the National Heart & Lung Institute in London, England.

5. Nevil, the coolest owl to emerge since Harry Potter's Hedwig. His saucy English chatter makes him a must-follow on Twitter.

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Health & Fitness

Sweet indulgences: Holiday goodies with health benefits