10 Bad Things that Are Good for You

Everyday Health from A to Z:
B = Brain

The Doctors illustrate how playing video games can stimulate the brain and help improve cognitive skills.

Vices, guilty pleasures, secret indulgences … we all have them. Whether yours are sweets, chocolate or a pint of beer, some of them might actually be good for you!

Top 10 Bad Things that Are Good for You

10. Butter
Recent studies conclude that trans-oleic acids found in butter can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Butter also has high levels of vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as selenium, an antioxidant.

Adding butter to vegetables helps the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients. However, be sure to limit yourself to just a pat, or 1 tablespoon per day, because butter is high in cholesterol and saturated fats.

9. Ice Cream
Ice cream … the childhood treat we never outgrow. The chilly dessert is rich in calcium, protein and vitamins A and D, and helps reduce blood pressure and the risk of colon cancer. Experts suggest that a serving of ice cream, ½ cup per day, can even curb binge eating. The next time the ice cream truck comes tinkling down your street, run out with the rest of the kids!

8. Red Meat
In moderate amounts, lean red meat is an excellent source of protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B. It has the same amount of fat as a piece of skinless chicken. However, if the meat is marbled, or fatty, it’s one of the unhealthiest choices on the menu. E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork illustrates which cuts of beef are healthiest to eat.

Enjoy 16 ounces of 95 percent lean red meat per week.

7. Germs
Many parents go to great lengths to keep their children free of dirt and germs, but not all germs are bad. Studies show that children who grow up with pets in the house and play outside in the dirt have a lower rate of developing illness, allergies and asthma.

“Getting exposed to dirt and germs is actually good for your immune system,” pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears says. “People can actually overdo the hand sanitizers. Good germs and bad germs on your body live in a balance. If you overdo the washing, you can kill all the germs, and it allows the bad germs to take over.”

Dr. Sears suggests that children wash their hands after using the bathroom, before they eat and if they have been in a crowded area, such as a grocery store or movie theater. Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water is best, but if sinks are unavailable, use hand sanitizers.

6. Beer
Studies indicate that moderate consumption of alcoholic beer can help reduce the risk of heart disease. If you imbibe a brew, choose a dark-colored one, as it is considered healthier than light-colored beer.

Enjoy a frosty glass topped with foam, but don’t belly up to the bar too long! Benefits are only seen with one glass per day for women and two for men. Too much beer is unhealthy, and heavy imbibers run the risk of developing an unsightly beer belly.

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5. Sexy Imagery
Studies show that couples who view sexy imagery have more sex and rate their relationships as more fulfilling and happy than couples who don’t.

Take a cue from Mother Nature and indulge in safe sex – it’s good for you! Intercourse can help boost the immune system, lower stress and blood pressure, reduce pain and increase energy.

4. Cursing
Miss Manners may be horrified to learn this, but if a person curses when hurt, the act of swearing can decrease the pain experience by 50 percent. While it’s not clear why this phenomenon occurs, the next time you stub your toe, it’s OK to be uncensored!

“For parents with children around, maybe pick other words like ‘fudge’ or ‘shoot’ or ‘son of a bunion,’ Dr. Sears suggests.

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3. Greasy Food
Believe it or not, foods like French fries, bacon and cheese may lessen the symptoms of a hangover. The oil from these fatty foods help coat the stomach and can reduce nausea. For best results, consume these meals before a night of drinking.

“In certain Mediterranean countries, they will [consume] a teaspoon of olive oil,” plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon says. “It coats the stomach, which helps gastritis, nausea and may help prevent as much alcohol being absorbed.”

Drinking tip: Pace yourself by having no more than one alcoholic drink per hour, and always alternate a glass of water after every libation. If in pain, only take acetaminophen, as ibuprofen or aspirin can harm your stomach, particularly when combined with alcohol.

2. Video Games
Experts say that playing video games can stimulate the frontal, temporal and occipital lobes of the brain and improve cognitive skills, such as judgment, motor function and memory.


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children spend no more than two hours per day playing video games, watching television or on the computer. Any more than that and they are twice as likely to develop attention problems or disorders.

Get your kids off the couch with this video game workout!

1. Sunshine
Sunlight stimulates production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that makes us feel good, and just five minutes per day in the sun without sunscreen can greatly improve your health. Sunshine is one of the best sources of vitamin D, which helps guard against cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes. More than 75 percent of people are deficient in vitamin D, so be sure to take time to soak up some rays!