Doctors often have to deliver unpopular messages. No, you shouldn't have soft drinks. No, you shouldn't eat white bread. No, eggnog shouldn't be one of your basic food groups.

But this year, medical science has a few holiday gifts to share: Chocolate, that much craved treat, is also much maligned. Blamed for acne, obesity, coronary artery disease and diabetes, the Journal of Nutrition reports that it can also lower cholesterol levels, prevent cognitive decline and reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Coffee, which stains teeth, causes anxiety and disrupts sleep, can also protect against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, liver disease and liver cancer. It can promote a healthy heart.

Sadly, no recent research takes up for candy canes, whipped cream and peanut butter fudge, but a resourceful person could justify carrot cake. Carrots are antioxidant-rich and reduce cancer and cardiovascular disease risks.

And apple strudel? We all know that one apple a day keeps the doctor away, but now medical science says eating an apple each day might be as beneficial as daily statin use for preventing vascular deaths in people over the age of 50.

So as you indulge - overindulge? - this season, thank medical science for easing your conscience a bit. And for making your new year's diet resolutions more palatable - if you practice moderation.