Everybody knows hitting the gym regularly is good for your health - a great way to reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and other ills. But you might want to add another stop to your healthy routine: the nearest tavern. Research suggests happy hour - cheap drinks and snacks, friends and music - might better be called "healthy hour." With the "all things in moderation" proviso, of course.
Dozens of studies have shown that moderate drinking reduces your risk of heart attack, strokes caused by clots, peripheral vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, and death from all cardiovascular causes. A drink or two a day cuts the risk of death from heart disease by about 25 percent, in part, by raising levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the so-called good cholesterol.
It may also lower your risk of gallstones and may reduce your risk of diabetes.
Antioxidants found in red wine killed cancer cells, according to research by the U.S. National Institutes of Health recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
While you're sipping, go ahead and reach for that bowl of mixed nuts atop the bar. Almonds, peanuts and other nuts contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats - heart-healthy fats that help lower levels of low-density lipoprotein, the so-called bad cholesterol. However, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats - like all fats - contain nine calories per gram. So, just as you can't pound the beers, you can't pound the party mix.
Nuts also contain Vitamin E and l-arginine, which may help keep your arteries from clogging.
The American Heart Association recommends eating at least four servings of nuts a week, without favoring one type of nuts over another. One serving is one handful, not one bowl.
Happy hour isn't nearly a healthy if you're drinking alone. Laughing with friends, in turns out, isn't just fun, it's good for you. Researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah did an analysis of 148 different studies totaling more than 300,000 participants and found that social isolation may be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Laughter, along with an active sense of humor, may help protect you against a heart attack, according to a 2009 study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. The study found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.