Chocolate as sunscreen?

Chocolate-300x275Good news for chocolate lovers! A German trial of 24 woman that ingested high quality dark chocolate each morning showed promising results against skin cancer. Half of the women drank hot cocoa, that contained high levels of flavonoids and the other half drank hot cocoa that tasted the same, but without the antioxidants. Before the trial began, the subjects were exposed to UV radiation and the amount of redness produced in their skin was measured. After 3 months of consuming the chocolate beverages, the participants were exposed to UVA radiation a second time and results were measured. Surprisingly, only the participants that ingested the darkest hot chocolate benefited from reduced redness following the sun exposure.

Why dark chocolate?

It turns out, dark chocolate is just the latest of many antioxidants that are being studied for their photo protective qualities when they are consumed. Cooked tomatoes also show promise in reducing the signs of sun induced damage on the skin. The carotenoids in tomatoes are powerful antioxidants that are strong weapons against the free radical damage caused by sun exposure. It was the discovery of the protective nature of these carotenoids that lead to the investigation of chocolate and its flavinoid activity. Mars Schmitz agrees. “people don’t think about it, but in reality your skin, just like every other tissue, depends on healthy blood flow. And in our previous work…we showed that blood flow in the extremities-the finger tip was improved” in people consuming the flavonoids in dark chocolate. So, he argues, “it wasn’t a shot in the dark” to hypothesis that chocolate consumption might improve overall skin condition and health. Yet, he adds, “I was still surprised to see this.” So, enjoy a quilt free square or two! It may just help you look younger, longer.

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