Flavanols, found in cocoa and chocolate, have been found to protect the skin from UV damage and improve the appearance of the skin.
As a matter of fact, eating a small square of dark chocolate daily can help improve your health in many ways. Not only dark chocolate is rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and other minerals, it is also believed that the cocoa bean has potential benefits on cardiovascular health, brain function, mood and even skin health!
But be careful, not all types of chocolate are good for the skin…
Learn about the benefits of chocolate for skin and how to make a chocolate face mask at home!
What do studies show?
- A study, published by the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology in 2009, showed that chocolate consumption helped protect against ultra-violet (UV) sunshine exposure.
- Regular consumption of a beverage rich in flavanols can confer substantial photoprotection as well as help maintain skin health by improving skin structure and function. The photoprotection offered by cocoa flavanols is within the range of that reported for dietary carotenoids, such as β-carotene or lycopene.
- Flavanols-rich cocoa intake has been shown to increase microcirculation, skin hydration and smoothness in human skin, thereby improve the appearance of skin.
- Eating a little chocolate packed with antioxidants, or flavanols, each day may help prevent wrinkles and make skin more radiant by boosting elasticity and improving hydration.
This is good news for chocolate lovers, even if more evidence is needed!
Why are flavanols found in cocoa so beneficial?
Flavanol is a naturally occurring antioxidant found in various types of plants. Plants naturally produce thousands of substances called phytochemicals. The flavonols are just one of many groups of phytochemicals.
As with many antioxidants, flavanols promote health by protecting cells from damaging free-radicals and fighting inflammation.
Smoking, pollution and a lack of sleep contribute to the creation of free radicals that can damage healthy cells in the body and accelerate the aging process.
Essentially, flavanols help inhibit the ability of the free radicals to trigger negative changes within the body chemistry.
Dark chocolate contains particularly high quantities of flavanols, which also have potential influences on vascular health.
As a matter of fact, chocolate may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease thanks to its anti-inflammation action and by lowering blood pressure and decreasing LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol).
Researchers also found that insulin resistance (a risk factor for diabetes) was significantly lowered in those who ate the dark chocolate.
Are all types of chocolate good for the skin?
Not all forms of chocolate contain high levels of flavanols.
Chocolate with a higher proportion of cocoa solids will contain more flavonoids. Raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are best if you want to get all the health benefits of cocoa. Or opt for organic dark chocolate greater than 70 percent cocoa.
The more chocolate is processed, the more flavanols are lost.
Unfortunately most commercial chocolates are highly processed and during the manufacture of conventional chocolate the concentration of flavanols is drastically reduced.
In addition, commercial chocolate (especially milk chocolate) is often loaded with other unhealthy fats and sugars.
Processed sugars will lead to increased inflammation and the risk of worsening acne and other inflammatory conditions, such as diabetes or heart diseases.
What about the fat found in chocolate?
Chocolate contains some saturated fat. But fat in chocolate comes from cocoa butter, which is not considered to be a bad fat. It is made up of equal amounts of oleic acid (a healthy monounsaturated fat), stearic and palmitic acids (some forms of saturated fat that appear to have a neutral effect on cholesterol).
The problem is that chocolate products can have other types of fat added… This is why it is advised to eat raw cocoa or only small amounts of extremely dark chocolate with little fat.
Not to mention that dark chocolate is dense in calories. Indeed, dark chocolate is best consumed in moderation!
Here’s an easy chocolate mask recipe
Using a chocolate face mask can help keep skin clear and hydrated. I recommend making your own chocolate face mask at home!
All you need is:
- 1/4 cup raw cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon plain yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon mashed avocado
Mix and apply to your face for 10-20 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water.