An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? We have all heard the old saying, but what if you were told that eating chocolate and French fries, among other unlikely foods, could actually be beneficial to your health? Many experts are now saying that a variety of foods have many more health benefits than previously assumed.

Chocolate: How many times were you lectured as a kid that candy will rot your teeth? Well, chew on this: Scientists are now considering using chocolate as an ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwash. According to Associated Content, chocolate has been proven to reduce tooth decay.

Chocolate is loaded with calcium and protein, two elements that may protect the enamel on one’s teeth. And the cocoa bean has the ability to kill bacteria and plaque. For people who suffer from diabetes, dark chocolate provides an extra benefit. Just a small portion of dark chocolate daily can help to normalize insulin levels.

French fries: Women, especially, can benefit from this side dish, one usually considered a diet no-no. The potassium in potatoes helps ward off kidney stones and brittle bones, which are caused by low potassium and affect 80 percent of women. Potatoes are also an excellent source of fiber, and when fried in olive oil, the dish provides cancer-fighting antioxidants.

Cayenne peppers: Chronic headache sufferers might want to try loading up on the hot sauce next time they order Archie Moore’s wings or a buffalo chicken pizza. According to an article in The New York Times, various studies have found that the active ingredient in cayenne peppers, capsaicin, provides relief for headache victims by reducing Substance P, the neurotransmitter that sends pain impulses through the head.

In a study published in 1998 in The Clinical Journal of Pain, researchers found that capsaicin worked better than placebos at relieving chronic head pain, although most studies actually show that capsaicin works best when applied topically.

Broccoli: Although spring break is still a few months away, when the time does come around, it may be beneficial to anyone planning to hit the beaches to consider their broccoli intake.

While it is a figure-friendly veggie, it also has recently been proven to protect the skin from sun damage. The redness caused by sunburns, known in the medical world as erythema, caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation, can be reduced by the compound sulforaphane found in broccoli sprouts, according to WebMD. Researchers found that a solution containing sulforaphane reduced redness by an average of 37 percent compared with untreated skin exposed to ultraviolet rays.

Coffee: A little known fact is that coffee beans are actually berries. Not only that, they also contain a higher amount of antioxidants than any other berry. As if pulling an all-night cram session is not enough of a reason to run to Dunkin’ Donuts, here is another: Drinking coffee lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Apples: This fruit contains a concentration of the chemical falconoid, a naturally occurring compound found in vegetables and fruits. This chemical appears to give apples the ability to halt the growth of colon and liver cancer cells, improve lung health and decrease the risk of heart disease. Maybe a second slice of apple pie this Thanksgiving is not such a bad idea.

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