Tag Archives: PROD-464060

  • Chocolate: A Tasty Way to Get Your Antioxidants

    ChocolateThink of superfoods and names like kale and quinoa come to mind. The good news is that studies have shown chocolate has some pretty impressive health benefits, too (we’ve always secretly believed that anyway). Here’s what some top medical institutions have to say about chocolate’s healthy benefits.

    Flavonols: The secret ingredient
    Cacao seeds are rich in flavonols, which protect the plant from environmental toxins. When we eat chocolate, our cells get the same antioxidant benefits. Flavonols have anti-inflammatory properties too, potentially lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and reducing blood clots, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

    If those weren’t reasons enough, chocolate can improve mood and help you think more clearly, especially in elderly people. And according to the University of Michigan Health System, the healthy fats in cocoa butter can help lower LDL (bad cholesterol).

    In order to reap these substantial benefits, it’s important to eat the right type of chocolate—i.e. with a cocoa content of 65 percent or higher. That’s because the higher the cocoa content, the more flavonols are preserved in processing. Since the extra calories can still be a concern, the Mayo Clinic recommends eating no more than three ounces a day to reap the best health benefits.

    Eat chocolate, save the world!
    Cacao trees need a unique tropical environment to grow and produce the best chocolate, and most chocolate is grown in developing countries in Central America and West Africa. But throughout the history of its production there have been problems with the way chocolate has been grown and produced—toxic pesticides were used, rainforests destroyed, unscrupulous middlemen took profits, and children and other laborers were compensated with poor or no wages.

    Thankfully, many of these issues have been remedied by Fair Trade and organic programs. Fair Trade certification ensures that farmers receive a fair price for their goods and requires producers to follow strict social and environmental standards. Chocolate that’s certified organic means no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers were used in the growing or processing of the chocolate. An added benefit is that organic cacao is typically grown on small plots under existing forest canopy, preserving precious habitats for birds and other wildlife.

    Ones to try

    Divine Chocolate is the world's first farmer-owned, certified Fair Trade chocolate brand. The highly prized beans are grown on small-scale cocoa farms in Ghana. The taste is bold and full-bodied, with low bitterness for a smooth ultra-chocolaty taste.

    Alter Eco artisans create chocolate bars with both traditional and unique ingredients. Their almond, mint and toasted quinoa bars are made with organic and Fair Trade-certified chocolate from Ecuadorian beans, with a rich chocolaty flavor, no bitterness and light floral and fruity notes.

    Dagoba Organic adds flavorful herbs and spices to their chocolate bars—look for additions of lavender, ginger and chai to create a unique, zesty flavor. All of their beans come from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms in Peru, Tanzania and the Dominican Republic, using sustainable farming practices.

    Endangered Species donates 10 percent of net profits to environmental causes that support at-risk species and habitats, and the beans are grown on Fair Trade certified, small family-owned farms. With vitamin and mineral-packed ingredients like superfoods yacon, acai and golden berries, we think it’s safe to call this one a “health food!”

    Look for these and other great chocolate brands on the shelves at your local Pharmaca store.

  • Facing Up to the Facts About Aging

    Crow’s feet and laugh lines starting to appear? As we add years to our life, the building blocks of strong skin and bones start to weaken, betraying our age. We talked with esthetician Carolyn Racke at Pharmaca in San Francisco about keeping your skin looking younger with proper nutrition and prevention.

    Issue: Weakening cartilage and bones
    Just like the rest of the skeleton, the bones and cartilage in the face can lose mass and density, changing bone structure and your appearance. As you might expect, Carolyn recommends a strong dose of calcium. “For women, it’s especially important to be taking a multivitamin that includes a good amount of calcium,” she says, recommending New Chapter Every Woman’s One Daily.

    “I actually recommend having your doctor do a bone density scan,” says Carolyn. “A lot of women who think they’re healthy actually have weak bones.” If that’s the case, make sure you’re supplementing with additional calcium. (Check your store events page to find out if bone density scans are available at your Pharmaca.)

    Issue: Collagen and elastin breaking down
    Collagen begins to diminish rapidly after the age of 30 (1 percent per year, says Carolyn), which creates a loss of firmness and elasticity. “Our cells don’t turn over as quickly, which leads to wrinkles,” says Carolyn. She recommends Natural Factors BioSil, a great internal addition that can help generate collagen, elastin and keratin, and helps strengthen bones and joints.

    Sun exposure also can speed up the break down of collagen. “One of the most important things is to protect your skin from the sun,” says Carolyn. Even in the winter months, make sure you’re adding a sunblock into your daily routine. A Pharmaca favorite--Jurlique Sun Lotion SPF 30.

    Issue: Fat loses volume and structure
    Our faces may be the one place where we’d rather not lose fat. As fat cells lose plumpness and structure, they can shift and sag. While it may not be possible to stop this process, you may be able to slow it with essential fatty acids from fish oil or evening primrose oil. “Evening primrose is also good for balancing your hormones, which can aid in other skin issues,” says Carolyn.

    For more advice about keeping your skin looking younger, longer, speak with a Pharmaca practitioner today.

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