Between the praise of new superfoods and mixed reviews on whether foods like coffee or wine are good or bad for one’s health, local author Mary Boone Wellington decided to dig into the facts. Her resulting book, Radical Indulgence: The Health Secrets of Coffee, Chocolate & Wine, is an attempt to dispel certain food myths and affirm the scientific studies on the three so-called indulgences.
“I had been reading lots of reports about the health benefits of coffee, chocolate and wine,” she said. “I was perfectly willing to use the justifications found to encourage my inclinations ... but nobody believed it either.”
Wellington had previously written Hope I Don’t Die Before I Get Old after caring for her own mother. The inspiration from the book came from reports of extended life expectancy and how the baby boomer generation was prepared (or unprepared) to plan for its later years. Her first book included a chapter on how to maintain one’s health, and from there she found her inspiration for her second book.
“The news looked good, and then I realized there was a great dichotomy of people that aren’t willing to accept good news,” she said. “Coffee has been the most extensively studied and there’s no evidence that coffee is unhealthy in a general way.”
Of course, she said, there are studies on how coffee can negatively affect one’s health in specific ways, but overall it’s not a bad food. The same remains true, that everything should be taken in moderation, but Wellington argues that as a culture we feel an unvalidated guilt for consuming coffee, chocolate and wine. She found in her research the same to be true for chocolate and wine.
“One of the things that totally surprised me was the fact that red wine builds bone,” Wellington said. “It seems so random and crazy, but it’s one of the pure definitive facts that’s come out of recent research. … I fully expect to expose the news stories for the lies that they undoubtedly were. I was shocked to find that all the studies had positive results for consuming these three things.”
Ultimately, Wellington hopes readers will discover their enjoyment in eating chocolate or sipping wine and coffee without feeling as guilty.
“What would happen if you gave up your belief that the pleasures in life shouldn’t be enjoyed?” she said. “People are so attached to their belief that the things that are good for them can’t be pleasant. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Well, what if the medicine was a spoonful of sugar?”