Packed full of antioxidants, chocolate is increasingly gaining a place among the circle of healthful foods. Some studies show that chocolate may protect the skin from damaging sunlight. However, not all researchers agree.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that a moderate amount of chocolate – especially dark chocolate – is good for our gut health, cholesterol levels, and brain. It may even lower the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
The health benefits of chocolate are thought to be due to the high levels of antioxidants found in one of the nation’s favorite snacks.
But what about our skin health? Can chocolate prevent skin aging, sunburn, and possibly even skin cancer?
Chocolate and sunlight
Too much sunlight leaves most people with sunburn. However, excessive sunlight exposure is also a key contributor to skin cancer and skin aging.
Could chocolate, with its high antioxidant levels, protect us from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays? Some believe that it could.
The raw cocoa bean has very high levels of flavanols, a type of antioxidant. But most of these are lost during the process that turns the bean into the chocolate that we know and love.
That being said, chocolate manufacturers are now experimenting with new processes that preserve higher levels of antioxidants.
A study by led Prof. Wilhelm Stahl – from the Institute for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany – and colleagues investigated whether higher antioxidant levels in chocolate could improve the skin’s ability to withstand damage from UV radiation.