ASCP Skin Deep


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Page 31 of 96 29 Dark Indulgence Go ahead—enjoying a little dark chocolate is good for you by Alex Caspero expertadvice FEED YOUR FACE 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 fl ow to the skin. The minimal amount of UVB 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 fl avanols for 12 weeks saw the amount of UV-induced erythema decrease signifi cantly compared to those who didn't consume any.1 Evaluation of the skin surface after 12 weeks also showed a signifi cant decrease of skin roughness and scaling, off ering even more evidence that dark chocolate provides skin health benefi ts. IMPROVED COGNITIVE FUNCTION Dark chocolate may also improve brain function. The same fl avanols that are responsible for the benefi ts seen after sun exposure may also have benefi cial physiological eff ects, especially as it relates to vascular function. 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. A pilot study that evaluated the relationship between blood fl ow to the brain and a single dose of fl avanol-rich cocoa showed increased blood fl ow to gray matter in the brain, suggesting that cocoa fl avanols may be benefi cial for treatment of stroke and dementia, though 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 fi ber; 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 benefi ts, should be consumed in moderation. You'll still get some benefi ts with smaller pieces; for maximum fl avor 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," The Journal of Nutrition 136, no. 6 (June 2006): 1,565–1,569. 2. S. T. Francis et al., "The Eff ect of Flavanol-Rich Cocoa on the f MRI Response to a Cognitive Task in Healthy Young People," Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology 47 Supplement 2 (2006): S215–20.

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