Chocolate can protect skin from UV rays, according to research

Jun 25, 2012 by

Starre Vartan

Mon, Jun 25 2012 at 3:56 PM EST

In a reversal of what many of us thought, it turns out that compounds found in chocolate can actually help skin.


Two young women eat chocolate. Photo: D Sharon Pruitt/Flickr
If you have a ‘bit of chocolate a day’ habit (I do!) you might already have heard of some of the research surrounding the healthfulness of chocolate, which in its purer forms has been tied to heart and metabolic health, as well as a source of antioxidants. Now it turns out that it might be a skin protector too.
A study in the Journal of Nutrition indicates that high-flavonol cocoa protects skin from UV rays. No, not by slathering on the skin, but by consuming it (much more delicious of an option).
According to the journal article summary, “One group of women ingested 326 mg/d of high flavanol cocoa, rich in the antioxidants epicatechin and catechin, and another group consumed only 27 mg/d over a 12-week period. At the end, the high flavanol group showed decreased sensitivity to UV light, increased cutaneous and subcutaneous blood flow, skin hydration and thickness, as well as reduced roughness and scaling.”
This means that those who consumed the chocolate drink with higher amounts of flavanols suffered less significant burns than those who had a drink with less. For those of us who are dedicated to the use of foods rather than drugs for healing, this is another drop in the bucket of research indicating that pure, healthy foods can keep us healthier, longer.
What this information does not mean is that eating a Kit Kat or Snickers bar every day is advisable. Processed chocolate candy that you find in the bodega, corner store or gas station contains very little cocoa, and what there is is low-quality chocolate grown in monoculture systems that are doused with fertilizers and chemicals. Not great for the earth or your waistline, since it is then mixed with a lot of extra sugar, unhealthy fats, and artificial flavors.
What this does mean is that seeking out and enjoying a small to moderate quantity of organic, Fair-Trade (and raw if you can find it) dark chocolate may very well assist your skin in protection and self-repair. While you will notice that this chocolate is a little more expensive (if you buy in bulk when it’s on sale it only ends up costing about 10-20% more than conventional processed candy), you need less of it and it lasts quite a while.
Once you get into trying and tasting real cacao, you will notice that chocolate from different regions tastes quite different from each other, just like coffee, which is a far cry from the generic, overly-sweet taste of a Hershey bar.
I recommend the following brands as being both incredibly tasty, pretty easy to find (grocery stores, Whole Foods, and online), fairly priced, and made without unecessary ingredients:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *