Improves mood and may help protect against heart disease. Chocolate increases the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is responsible for regulating mood. (Low levels of serotonin have been associated with depression.) Cocoa is also rich in polyphenols, plant-derived antioxidants that may protect cells against oxidative damage that can lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels, possibly putting you at higher risk for a heart attack.
Calories: 195 for 8 ounces homemade cocoa; 115 for a powdered mix
Low-Sodium Tomato Juice
May protect against numerous cancers. Processed tomato products are the richest source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been associated with a reduced risk of lung and stomach cancer, as well as pancreatic, colorectal, esophageal, oral, breast, and cervical cancers. Lycopene also appears to protect the lungs and heart against oxidative damage, helping to ward off cardiovascular disease.
Calories: 31 for 6 ounces
Helps prevent gum disease. Research suggests that the same antibacterial properties present in cranberry juice that fight off urinary tract infections may also protect against periodontal disease. Experts theorize that a component of the juice called nondialysable material (NDM) inhibits bacteria from sticking to the gums. Many nutritionists are wary of fruit juices because of their sugar content, so limit your intake to no more than one glass (6 to 8 ounces) daily. "Make sure the label says 100 percent juice, not 'juice drink' or 'cocktail,'" suggests Heidi Reichenberger, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. You can find this type of juice in health-food stores and some supermarkets.
Calories: 140 for 8 ounces
May ward off cataracts, cancers, and birth defects and boost immunity. An excellent source of vitamin C, orange juice is also a potent antioxidant that may protect against a variety of diseases including cataracts (a clouding of the eye's lens that can lead to blindness) and lung cancer. Vitamin C may prevent oxidative damage that can cause cells to become cancerous, and it improves immune-cell functioning, enabling your body to fight off infections more efficiently. And it's a good source of folate, which protects against neural-tube defects in fetuses. To get the extra benefit of bone protection, try some calcium-fortified orange juice.
Calories: 115 for 8 ounces