Chocolate may be key to healthy skin

 
By HSC Staff Writer • Published: September 6th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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As if chocolate weren’t a perfect enough food. It lifts our spirits, supplies heart-healthy antioxidants and of course tastes great.

A new study suggests yet another reason to indulge in the mouth-watering treat: Dark chocolate especially hot cocoa may help us look younger.

Researchers in Germany found that women who drank cocoa that was high in antioxidants developed smoother and better-hydrated skin and were better protected from sunburn.

These benefits may be a byproduct of high levels of antioxidants, called flavonols, found in cocoa. Derived from plants, flavonols occur in many vegetables, fruits, tea, wine and cocoa beans.

Previous studies showed that flavonols may improve blood vessel function and blood flow. The German cocoa study seems to confirm that finding.

In the study, supported by candy giant Mars Incorporated, twenty-four women were asked to drink hot cocoa with breakfast every day for about three months. Half of them drank a flavonoid-enriched cocoa. The rest drank cocoa that didn’t contain as much of the nutrient.

The women drinking more flavonoids reaped the dermatological benefits. The blood flow in their skin doubled in tissue one millimeter below skin surface and increased by almost forty percent in tissue seven to eight millimeters deep.

And that’s not all. Their skin was substantially denser, thicker, smoother, more moist and less scaly than before the study.

Even though flavonol-enriched cocoa is not yet commercially available, chocolatiers are working on it. In the meantime, the taste of chocolate sweetens as we learn more about its health benefits.