Dark Chocolate Chases Wrinkles

Dark Chocolate Chases Wrinkles

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 7:56 AM

By Sylvia Booth Hubbard

Chocolate can help protect the skin from wrinkle-causing UV damage, but it’s not the type typically found in heart-shaped boxes. It’s a special dark chocolate that is high in flavanols, which means it’s loaded with naturally occurring, beneficial antioxidant plant compounds.

Chocolate has been used medicinally for more than 3,000 years, variously used as a treatment for angina, dysentery, fevers, constipation, and a host of other illnesses. Modern medicine started taking chocolate seriously in 1997, when a Harvard professor discovered that high-flavanol cocoa relaxes the blood vessels, thereby acting as a protectant against heart disease and hypertension.

Now scientists at European Dermatology London say a few squares of high-flavanol chocolate a day helps prevent wrinkles caused by UV rays from the sun, and may even lower the risk of skin cancer. But they emphasized that it has to be high-flavanol chocolate. In a statement in the Daily Mail, the researchers said, “The main mechanism is likely to be the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. But conventional chocolate had no such effect.”

Until recently, most health research with chocolate was done using unsweetened cocoa or specially formulated high-flavanol chocolate, since ordinary chocolate candy has had the flavanols removed because they have such a bitter taste. Companies like Mars and Nestle, however, now provide high-flavanol chocolate in highly palatable form. Mars, for example, markets Dove Dark, which is made with a proprietary, specially processed cocoa that is so high in antioxidants that it is used in medical research.

Flavanols are also found in green tea, red wine, and other foods and drinks. However, a 20 g portion (less than an ounce—.0705) of high flavanol chocolate contains roughly 660 mg of flavanols, while a serving of red wine contains about 160 mg and a serving of green tea contains only 47 mg.

Washington-based nutrition consultant Katherine Tallmadge recommends roughly an ounce a day of high-flavanol chocolate such as Dove Dark for health benefits. “Any more than that,” she said in an article in the Washington Post, “and you’re probably going to take in too many calories for weight control.”

© 2010 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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