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RESEARCH Key ingredients for creating beautiful skin may seem better suited for your kitchen


Published: Sat, March 25, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


The items have health and beauty properties.
SCRIPPS HOWARD
At first glance, some of the following key ingredients seem more suited for the kitchen than for your medicine chest, but working them into your diet can have real beauty benefits.
Cocoa: Cornell University food scientists found that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times the amount found in green tea. Research has demonstrated that the antioxidants in cocoa are highly stable and easily metabolized by the human body, which means they can be readily used by the body. Cocoa has a high concentration of anti-aging polyphenol antioxidants, so it's possible that incorporating dark chocolate into your diet may alleviate the signs of aging.
Product pick: The antioxidant properties of the cocoa extract found in Payot Creme de Choc ($48; available by calling 800-450-9564) may have a rebalancing effect on the skin. You'll also get a dose of vitamins A, C and E along with green tea, ginseng and royal jelly to help boost cellular renewal and protect against environmental aggressors.
Cranberries: Cranberries are rich in flavonoids, which have been found to have anticancer, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, making them very valuable to your overall well-being. Not only are cranberries jam-packed with antioxidants, they also act as a natural breath mint.
Product pick: Sircuit Skin Sir-Activ Zeolyte Purifying Scrub ($48; sircuitskin.com) uses cranberry extract to assist in skin cell renewal. This scrub also employs zeolyte beads, derived from volcanic rock, which can help trap and wash away pollution and debris on the skin.
Go nuts
Almonds: A 2003 Food and Drug Administration study suggests that 1.5 ounces of fiber-, protein- and vitamin A-rich almonds daily may reduce the risk of heart disease. Six almonds a day are also believed to provide the fatty acids your nails need to stay strong and prevent splitting.
Product pick: Joey Pure Pores Crushed Almond and Honey Scrub ($30; sephora.com) uses only the meat of the almond (no harsh, abrasive shells here) for gentle exfoliation. With added honey for natural hydration and clay to absorb excess oils, you have a sweet-smelling treat that can brighten, soften and refine dull, dry skin.
Grapes: Grapes are high in polyphenols, which have many health benefits including the prevention of heart disease and cancer. When applied topically to sun-damaged skin, resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes and red wine, can help decrease the effects of UVB exposure and help stop skin cells from developing skin cancer. Resveratrol may also benefit the skin through moderate grape and red wine consumption.
Product pick: With grape seeds, essential oils and brown sugar, Caudalie Crushed Cabernet Scrub ($45; sephora.com) helps you say "Cheers!" to smooth skin.
Great gourd
Pumpkin: Pumpkins are rich in phytochemicals called carotenoids -- powerful antioxidant compounds thought to fight cancer as well as help promote a healthy immune system and better vision. They are also rich in vitamins C and E, riboflavin, potassium and iron, and supply tons of fiber. Pumpkin seeds may be able to help minimize wrinkles thanks to a high concentration of zinc, which works along with vitamin C to boost collagen production.
Product pick: Dibi's pumpkin-based Nettare di Zucca Soothing Lotion ($28; 800-959-DIBI) is rich in beta carotene, which is thought to help repair tissue and protect against environmental stress.


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