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You can't buy good health but you can buy good health information. Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School:

Beyond veggies: the health benefits of chocolate, sex, sleep and social networks, from the Harvard Health Letter

Can you have your health and enjoy yourself, too? A growing body of research suggests you can.

Never has high living looked quite so healthful as it has lately—even if it is high living on a leash. The permission to indulge in some pleasures almost always comes with a reminder about doing everything in moderation, reports the April 2009 issue of the Harvard Health Letter. Here are some not-so-guilty pleasures:

Alcohol: Moderate alcohol consumption protects against heart disease and stroke. Drinking increases “good” HDL cholesterol, reduces blood clotting factors, and may make blood vessels less vulnerable to atherosclerosis.

Chocolate: Chocolate improves blood flow through the arteries that supply the heart and the brain. There’s also evidence associating consumption of dark chocolate with lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation.

Coffee: Coffee drinkers may be less likely than coffee abstainers to have heart attacks, suffer strokes, or develop diabetes. Research also suggests that a coffee habit could be good for your brain, lowering your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

Sex: Research has suggested that frequent sexual intercourse (twice a week) is associated with reduced heart attack risk. Sexual activity also revs up metabolism, may help regulate menstrual cycles, and gives the immune system a boost.

Sleep: A good night's sleep is good for health. “Short sleepers” put on more pounds than people who sleep seven to eight hours a night. Subpar slumbering has been linked to diabetes, heart attacks, and even early death. When you stay awake for long stretches, it wreaks hormonal havoc; levels of the stress hormone cortisol go up, and your appetite gets out of whack.

Social life: Studies have linked social networks to good health, while social isolation and loneliness are associated with cognitive decline and high blood pressure.

Read Full-length Article: "Putting the joie de vivre back into health"

Also in this issue of the Harvard Health Letter

  • Putting the joie de vivre back into health
  • The Whipple procedure
  • Vitamins: Benefit of the doubt vs. doubts about benefit
  • By the way, doctor: Can cutting calories help my memory?
  • By the way, doctor: Should I be concerned about omega-3 fats and bleeding?

More Harvard Health News »


About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.