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Oh yes! Chocolate for UV skin protection.

Williams S, Tamburic S, Lally C 2009. Eating chocolate can significantly protect the skin from UV light. J Cosmetic Dermatol 8:3;169-73.

The good news just keeps on coming this year--at least with regards to chocolate and scientific excuses for eating it regularly! The bad news is that this study uses a specially produced flavanol rich chocolate, so normal dark chocolate won't give you the same effect. Still only a matter of time before the high flavanol variety is commercially available I'm sure!

Cocoa beans fresh from the tree are exceptionally rich in flavanols. Unfortunately during conventional chocolate making this high antioxidant capacity is greatly reduced due to high temperature manufacturing processes. This study aimed to evaluate the photoprotective potential of chocolate consumption comparing a conventional dark chocolate with a specially produced chocolate with preserved high flavanol (HF) levels.

Using a double blind in vivo study in 30 healthy pale skinned subjects, 15 subjects each were randomly assigned to either an HF or low flavanol (LF) chocolate group and consumed a 20 g portion of their allocated chocolate daily. During the study the scientists regularly exposed the subjects to controlled and increasingly high amounts of UV light to test the amount of UV required for the skin on their front and forearms to react and become inflamed. This is known as the minimal erythema dose (MED). The MED was assessed at baseline and after 12 weeks under standardised conditions.

Results showed that in the HF chocolate group the mean MED more than doubled after 12 weeks of chocolate consumption while in the LF chocolate group the MED stayed relatively the same. This could be a useful addition to the diet in our sun rich country as part of protecting our skin from harmful UV effects.

This study confirms the results of a similar study in 2006 which found that UV induced erythema was significantly decreased after regular intake of high flavanol chocolate. As well as the finding that dietary flavanols from cocoa contribute to endogenous photoprotection, the earlier study also indicated that they play a part in improving dermal blood circulation and affecting cosmetically relevant skin surface and hydration variables.

Kim Hunter MNHAA

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Author:Hunter, Kim
Publication:Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Dec 22, 2009
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