As we enter the end of summer, some of you may be worried about the sun damage you accumulated the last few months. Hopefully you stayed out of the sun during the hottest times of the day and/or used UV protective gear or non-toxic sunscreen to prevent sunburns (I LOVE Beauty Counter's sunscreen, just for the record!).
But, even if you did accumulate a few extra wrinkles this summer, you may be interested in a study I just learned about. A study that found a DECREASE in facial wrinkles and an INCREASE in skin elasticity (the "stretchiness" or ability of the skin to go back to its original form) in healthy women who consumed 320 mg of cocoa bean flavanols.
Flavanols are the compounds found in cocoa and other superfoods like green tea, berries and apples, that help protect our cells from damage. They are one of the health promoting components found in cocoa beans that give dark chocolate and raw cocoa such great reputations for health.
And man, do I LOVE delicious food that LOVES us back!
The particular study I just read was just published in the Journal of Nutrition. The researchers randomized 64 participants in to 2 groups: the cocoa group and the placebo group (man, I'd be mad if I was in the placebo group on this one!).
The cocoa group received 4 grams of cocoa powder that was processed for flavanol preservation (320 mg) while the placebo group consumed a cocoa-flavored beverage without flavanols but containing the same nutrient profile.
After 12 weeks of drinking their respective beverages, participants in the cocoa group were found to have significantly increased skin elasticity than the placebo group. And after 24 weeks, the average and maximum roughness of the cocoa group was lower than the placebo group, which correlates to fewer wrinkles according to the authors.
There was even a subset of participants that underwent UV radiation on a different part of their body. The ones who did this and were randomized to the cocoa group, showed overall improvement in protective effects to the UV light when compared to placebo.
Although the best prevention of UV skin damage is staying out of the sun during intense UV times of the day (10 am to 3 pm) and/or using protective gear when outside for more than 10 minutes at a time, cocoa flavanols taken daily may be a tasty way to prevent skin damage.
For the best benefit, I recommend raw cocoa or cocoa powder in a daily smoothie or hot beverage.
I know chocoholics will love this post!
To your health,
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DISCLAIMER: The content of this website does not serve as medical advice nor does it substitute for a thorough medical
evaluation by a qualified health care practitioner. It also does not represent the opinions of any of the medical institiutions or practitioners mentioned.
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Dr. Maltz earned a Medical Degree and Master in Public Health from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, TX. She completed a combined Internal and Preventive Medicine Residency at UTMB in June, 2011. She then completed a 2-year Integrative Medicine Fellowship at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, CT, during which she simultaneously underwent an intensive 1000-hour curriculum created by The University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Program founded by Dr. Andrew Weil.