your health
July 2, 2014
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As if we needed another reason to love chocolate: Researchers who studied 20 patients with peripheral artery disease found that the polyphenols in cocoa could increase blood flow, thus improving vascular health.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects 20 percent of adults 70 and older in the U.S. and other Western countries, and makes it difficult for people to exercise and walk because of impaired blood flow. For this study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers gave half of the participants 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate with at least 85 percent cocoa, and gave the other half 1.5 ounces of milk chocolate with less than 30 percent cocoa. The goal was to see if dark chocolate made it easier for patients to walk on a treadmill.

"After eating the dark chocolate, [the participants] walked an average 11 percent farther," study author Lorenzo Loffredo of Rome's Sapienza University told NPR's The Salt blog. An improvement in blood flow was seen in these patients, but "conversely, we did not observe effects on blood flow and on walking autonomy in PAD patients after milk chocolate consumption."

Researchers said the polyphenols in dark chocolate — which are already known to help fight inflammation — are able to reduce oxidative stress and help the body form more nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to dilate.

Don't run down to the nearest grocery store and stock up on dark chocolate just yet. Dr. Mark Creager of Brigham and Women's Hospital said that the "overall effect [of the dark chocolate] was relatively modest," and the 11 percent increase in walking only adds up to 40 more feet. "To put this in context, with other forms of treatment, such as supervised exercise training, maximal walking distance increases by approximately 100 percent." Catherine Garcia

This week in Washington
8:04 a.m. ET
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The Senate is likely to vote this week on a bill giving senators some oversight of the Iranian nuclear deal being negotiated by Iran and the U.S., plus five other world powers. The bill passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with a 19-0 vote, but last week Republicans filed a number of amendments that would strip away support from Democrats, depriving the measure of not only its sheen of bipartisanship but also enough votes to overcome a filibuster or, if 60 senators still vote in favor, enough to overcome a veto from President Obama.

"It's important that this stays bipartisan," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). "We should not intermingle emotional amendments with this bill. I’m appealing to people, 'Don't throw this bill in a ditch.'" The bill, as it stands now, would prevent Obama from waiving sanctions on Iran for 30 days while the Senate votes on the underlying bill. Some Democrats suggest that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wants Obama to veto the legislation. Peter Weber

This just in
7:53 a.m. ET
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Just weeks after being hit with a $30 million fine from the U.S. Department of Education, Corinthian Colleges has closed all 28 of its remaining schools. The department had fined for-profit Corinthian for providing students with false job placement rates.

Corinthian announced the closure on Sunday in a statement and an email to its 16,000 students. According to NBC News, Corinthian's closure marks the "biggest shutdown in the history of higher education in the United States."

"What these students have experienced is unacceptable," the Education Department said in a statement. "As Corinthian closes its doors for good, the department will continue to keep students at the heart of every decision we make." Meghan DeMaria

Noted
6:58 a.m. ET
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On Monday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said she has accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Lee Wan Koo, two months after Lee took office and a week after he submitted his resignation in a bribery scandal. A businessman, Sang Wan-jong, said that he paid Lee about $27,000 in bribes in 2013; Sang committed suicide earlier in April. Lee denied the allegation. In South Korea, the president holds most of the levers of power. Peter Weber

nepal earthquake
6:31 a.m. ET

The devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled Nepal and parts of India has killed at least 3,700 people, including a confirmed 3,617 deaths in Nepal. Residents and visitors to Kathmandu are camping out on the streets or fleeing due to fear of aftershocks or because the hotels are full and the airport is in disarray. And at least 18 of the confirmed deaths are on Mt. Everest, where an avalanche swept through base camp. For people not familiar with the topography of the world's highest peak, BBC News has this explainer of the avalanche and where it hit, complete with 3D graphics. Everest is dangerous, but none of the climbers expected this. —Peter Weber

Same-sex marriage
3:56 a.m. ET

The line to watch Tuesday's oral arguments for and against gay marriage started forming outside the Supreme Court on Friday. The justices will decide two main issues: Should states be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and should they be required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other U.S. jurisdictions? The court will preside over 90 minutes of arguments on the first question and an hour on the second.

If the justices seem skeptical about the first question, and ultimately side with the plaintiffs — there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, essentially — the second question won't matter much, explains Associated Press supreme court reporter Mark Sherman in this video preview. And the most important justice to watch is probably Anthony Kennedy, the conservative who has written the last three cases expanding gay rights. Sherman has a more detailed analysis below. —Peter Weber

Johnsplaining
3:05 a.m. ET

For the first four minutes of John Oliver's main story on Last Week Tonight, it's all good news: "Trendy clothes are cheaper than ever, and cheap clothes are trendier than ever," and clothing executives get rich while consumers get great deals. Then Oliver asks the obvious question, about how clothing brands make so much money on cheap fashion? "Let's be honest: You know the answer to that," he added, taking a trip down memory lane to the 1990s and the intermittent outrage over sweatshops and child labor and garment factory deaths since.

"Look, this is going to keep happening as long as we let it," Oliver said. "So we need to show clothing brands not just that we care, but why they should." Toward that end, he announced that he's bought lunch for the heads of Gap Inc., H&M, Walmart, and a few other brands with cheap clothes, to be delivered on Monday. And if that sounds like a nice gesture, well, watch until the end. —Peter Weber

l' odeur de la mort
2:07 a.m. ET
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The inspiration behind Katia Apalategui’s new business came from her mother, who held onto her late husband's pillowcase so she could always remember his distinctive smell.

Apalategui, an insurance saleswoman, thought it would be better to have an actual perfume made of the scent, and set about finding a way to make it happen. Eventually she wound up at France's University of Le Havre, where they came up with a technique to reproduce a smell. "We take the person's clothing and extract the odor — which represents about 100 molecules — and we reconstruct it in the form of a perfume in four days," Geraldine Savary of the University of Le Havre told Agence France-Presse.

It's instant "olfactory comfort," says Apalategui, who plans to launch the business in September with a chemist. While she plans to offer her services at funeral homes, she wants the living to feel included, too, and said a vial of her perfume (cost: €560, or $600) would be perfect as a Valentine's Day gift, or for a child who has a parent that travels often. Catherine Garcia

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