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Archive - Apr 25, 2018

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Dark Chocolate Has Positive Effects on Stress, Inflammation, Mood, Memory, & Immunity, New Studies Show

New research shows there might be health benefits to eating certain types of dark chocolate. Findings from two studies being presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 annual meeting in San Diego (April 21-25) show that consuming dark chocolate that has a high concentration of cacao (minimally 70% cacao, 30% organic cane sugar) has positive effects on stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory, and immunity. While it is well known that cacao is a major source of flavonoids, this is the first time the effect has been studied in human subjects to determine how it can support cognitive, endocrine, and cardiovascular health. Lee S. Berk, DrPH, Associate Dean of Research Affairs, School of Allied Health Professions and a researcher in psychoneuroimmunology and food science from Loma Linda University, served as principal investigator on both studies. "For years, we have looked at the influence of dark chocolate on neurological functions from the standpoint of sugar content - the more sugar, the happier we are," Dr. Berk said. "This is the first time that we have looked at the impact of large amounts of cacao in doses as small as a regular-sized chocolate bar in humans over short or long periods of time, and are encouraged by the findings. These studies show us that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity, and other beneficial effects." The flavonoids found in cacao are extremely potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, with known mechanisms beneficial for brain and cardiovascular health.

World First--New Structure of “Twisted Knot” DNA Revealed in Living Cells; Antibody Fragment Used to Identify I-Motif DNA; May Play Role in Gene Expression

It's DNA, but not as we know it. In a world first, Australian researchers have identified a new DNA structure - called the “i-motif” - inside cells. A twisted “knot” of DNA, the i-motif has never before been directly seen inside living cells. The new findings, from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, were published online on April 23, 2018 in Nature Chemistry. The article is titled “I-Motif DNA Structures Are Formed in the Nuclei of Human Cells.” Deep inside the cells in our body lies our DNA. The information in the DNA code - all 6 billion A, C, G, and T letters - provides precise instructions for how our bodies are built, and how they work. The iconic “double helix” shape of DNA has captured the public imagination since 1953, when James Watson and Francis Crick famously uncovered the structure of DNA. However, it's now known that short stretches of DNA can exist in other shapes, in the laboratory at least - and scientists suspect that these different shapes might play an important role in how and when the DNA code is “read.” The new shape looks entirely different from the double-stranded DNA double helix. "When most of us think of DNA, we think of the double helix," says Associate Professor Daniel Christ (Head, Antibody Therapeutics Lab, Garvan) who co-led the research. "This new research reminds us that totally different DNA structures exist - and could well be important for our cells." "The i-motif is a four-stranded 'knot' of DNA," says Associate Professor Marcel Dinger (Head, Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics, Garvan), who co-led the research with Assistant Professor Christ.