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Photoaging refers to the damage done to the skin from prolonged exposure to UV radiation. This damage can include wrinkles, dark spots, leathery skin, droopy skin and a yellowish tint. A recent study suggests that supplements containing cocoa that is high in flavanols may help improve facial wrinkles and skin elasticity in women with photo-aged skin.
Participants in the study included 62 Korean women between the ages of 43 and 86 with moderately photo-aged skin and visible facial wrinkles. Over the course of 24 weeks, the women were given a supplement containing 320 milligrams per day of cocoa flavanols or a placebo.
At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted a 9% improvement in skin roughness in the supplement group, compared with a 1.3% improvement in the placebo group. They also noted improvements in skin elasticity in the supplement group at the 12 week and 24 week marks. They did not notice any differences in skin hydration or barrier integrity.
Researchers from Seoul National University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on November 18, 2015, in The Journal of Nutrition.
Flavonols are the naturally occurring antioxidants found in cocoa. They have previously been shown to help decrease inflammation, protect DNA from damage and improve heart and brain health by increasing blood flow. The researchers in this study noted that chocolate would not provide the same health effects, as many of the nutrients of cocoa are destroyed in the roasting and refining process used to make chocolate.
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