Vivacious vices: The bad girl’s guide to good health

Who said you have to give up those nasty habits?

Women’s Health

By Jennifer Johnson
updated 8/11/2010 5:02:11 PM ET

Scientists have already given their blessings to guilty pleasures such as nibbling chocolate (it’s high in antioxidants) and sipping wine (red vino is heart-healthy). Now, studies are finding upsides to other so-called bad behaviors. Some things — like smoking or an addiction to cookies ‘n’ cream — we’d never endorse, but these six naughty habits can feel good and be good for you.

1. Getting pissed off can keep stress in check

A little anger may be a tonic for both your mind and body. For example, new studies suggest that riled-up people make better decisions. And researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that anger — as opposed to fear or anxiety — can prompt your brain to release less cortisol, the powerful stress hormone linked to problems like obesity, bone loss, and heart disease. “Traditionally, it has been difficult for women to express anger effectively, because we’re ‘supposed’ to act nurturing and sensitive,” says Julie K. Norem, Ph.D., author of The Positive Power of Negative Thinking. So let your ire out. Just don’t go overboard; chronic rage is unproductive.

2. Downing coffee could cut your cancer riskCoffee’s most exalted attribute — energy-boosting caffeine — has nothing on its real health superpowers. Studies show that drinking daily joe may minimize your risk for Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Why? Most chronic diseases are related to inflammation, and coffee is chock-full of anti-inflammatory compounds, says Shelley McGuire, Ph.D., an associate professor of nutrition at Washington State University. Coffee also has more antioxidants than almost any other food. Sip one to three high-octane or decaf cups a day, but make sure you steer clear of fat traps such as whipped-cream-topped lattes. “If you’re piling on calories,” warns McGuire, “you’re probably wiping out the benefits.”

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.