Fine Lines

Volume 1, Issue 3

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14 ASCP Fine Lines Chocolate lovers rejoice! Your wish has come true. Dark chocolate really is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health; it's also one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet. While the research doesn't show the same benefits for milk chocolate, there's still enough reason to celebrate. SUN PROTECTION Flavanols, bioactive compounds found in dark chocolate and other antioxidant- rich foods, are great for your skin. They can protect against sun damage, increase skin density and hydration, and improve blood flow to the skin. The minimal amount of ultraviolet B rays required to cause skin redness 24 hours after exposure is called the minimal erythemal dose (MED). In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, those who consumed dark chocolate high in flavanols for 12 weeks saw the amount of UV-induced erythema decrease significantly compared to those who didn't consume any.1 Evaluation of the skin surface after 12 weeks also showed a significant decrease of skin roughness and scaling, offering even more evidence that dark chocolate provides skin health benefits. IMPROVED COGNITIVE FUNCTION Dark chocolate may also improve brain function. The same flavanols that are responsible for the benefits seen after sun exposure may also have beneficial physiological effects, especially as it relates to vascular function. A pilot study that evaluated the relationship between blood flow to the brain and a single dose of flavanol-rich cocoa showed increased blood flow to gray matter in the brain, suggesting that cocoa flavanols may be beneficial for treatment of stroke and dementia, although more research is needed.2 HOW MUCH? Here is a breakdown of what you get with this sweet treat: 3.5 ounces (or 100 grams) of quality dark chocolate with 70–85 percent cacao contains 11 grams of fiber; 57 percent of the recommended dietary intake of iron; 58 percent of magnesium; 89 percent of copper; and plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. Unfortunately, that amount also contains 600 calories and a moderate amount of sugar. It's why dark chocolate, even with the health benefits, should be consumed in moderation. You'll still get some benefits with smaller pieces; for maximum flavor impact, place a small piece of dark chocolate in your mouth and allow it to slowly melt. Biting down on the chocolate may make it taste more bitter. ▪ Notes 1. Ulrike Heinrich et al., "Long-Term Ingestion of High Flavanol Cocoa Provides Photoprotection Against UV-Induced Erythema and Improves Skin Condition in Women," Journal of Nutrition 136, no. 6 (June 2006): 1,565–569. 2. S. T. Francis et al., "The Effect of Flavanol- Rich Cocoa on the f MRI Response to a Cognitive Task in Healthy Young People," Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology 4,7 Supplement 2 (2006): S215–20. Dark Indulgence Go ahead—enjoying a little dark chocolate is good for you by Alex Caspero

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