Is dark chocolate healthy for the skin? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Can you imagine that eating chocolate would improve your skin appearance, look, health and more? If true, how much do I have to eat? How often? What kind of dark chocolate? In this article, I explore the scientific evidence answering this question.
It is reasonable to think that eating dark chocolate is healthy for the skin since the source of dark chocolate is cacao beans which have some of the most potent anti-oxidants as I discussed in this previous article, and the anti-aging effects have been proven by medical and food research. There are very few articles in the literature answering the question: “is dark chocolate healthy for the skin?” However, the small evidence tends to be from “placebo-controlled trials” which I think is the best proof we have to link a cause, in this case, dark chocolate, with an effect, skin benefits. The authors come from many countries with no conflict of interest, so that gives this article and its supporting evidence good credibility.
I can start by saying that applying a topical gel that contains cacao pod husk extract at 10% concentration twice daily for few weeks showed beneficial and incremental effects in reducing skin wrinkling. But this was not what I was looking for, although it was interesting to find. I wanted to know: is dark chocolate healthy for the skin by eating or drinking dark chocolate?
Well, it turns out that the answer to that question is yes! First, there is proof in animals; mice that had cacao extract added to their food in low (0.25%) and high (1%) concentration. These mice showed improvement in atopic dermatitis (allergic skin condition) by consuming the human equivalent of 150 mgs of cacao-derived flavonols daily contained in this cacao extract which was added the food. For comparison, know that 100 grams of dark chocolate might contain approximately 170 mgs of these flavanols. Did you know that the equivalent dose of these anti-oxidants, flavonols, in 100 grams of wine is 22 mgs? So, it seems you will get more health benefits from consuming dark chocolate than wine. Am I answering the question “is dark chocolate healthy for the skin yet?.”
Then, the acne and chocolate link appeared during my investigation. But, the effect of cacao and chocolate on worsening acne is controversial. The most recent studies in 2011 and 2014 showed the possibility of acne getting worse after a one-time large dose of pure chocolate (100% cacao). The amounts given was 340 grams of chocolate or capsules containing cacao powder in varying amounts, and it was given to men with a history of acne. I would say that none of us eat that amount of 100% dark chocolate in one sitting, or in capsules, and most of us don’t have acne, so these findings apply to a very few. So, is dark chocolate healthy for people with acne? The majority of the studies contradict the effects of chocolate on inducing or worsening acne. Systematic reviews, which are extensive and detailed studies of all the data available, have not found a link between foods and acne. Investigators think that other ingredients in chocolate, like dairy and sugar, might be the culprit. To summarize this section, I would say that if you are a young man with history or active acne, then be careful with the amount and type of chocolate you get, if not, the only way to know is to try a dark chocolate bar and see what happens.
Afterward, I found that drinking chocolate, or a cacao-containing beverage, daily for six months improved the skin elasticity, which can make you look healthy and young. The drink was prepared with 4 grams of cacao powder which resulted in 320 mgs of powerful antioxidant flavonols. By the way, is dark chocolate healthy for the Mayas? It seems that way since around two thousand years B.C they were already drinking chocolate, the first ones to do so, how smart! It seems they already knew the health benefits derived from cacao. Other researchers showed that one hundred mL, about three ounces, of a cacao drink with high antioxidant power, extended the amount of time our skin becomes red when exposed to UV light, i.e., sun exposure. Are you getting this? Drinking chocolate can work along with your sunscreen lotion and prevent sun-related skin damage. They confirmed this effect when they compared a high antioxidant content drink with a low antioxidant concentration. In the same reports, they also showed improved skin blood flow, and oxygenation, as well as decreased skin roughness and scaling, all features of healthy skin with less wrinkling.
Now, is dark chocolate healthy for your skin by eating it? Well, investigators have proved this too. Eating small amounts (twenty to thirty grams) of high-flavonol dark chocolate daily, when compared to low-flavonol chocolate, for three months also showed improved skin elasticity and resistance to sun exposure. The effects were better when you adhere to your daily dose. Important to note that in these studies the blood glucose and weight of the participants remain unchanged.
In summary, if they ask you: is dark chocolate healthy for the skin? Then your answer should be a loud YES! Based on this article, you can give the details: 1. Drink a small amount (100 ml or half a cup) of cacao-based beverage or drinking chocolate; or 2. Eat a small piece of any of these chocolate bars daily to enjoy the skin health benefits of cacao and dark chocolate. One last thing, don't forget to share this article with family, friend and contacts, so they can all discover this news.
Theobroma cacao extract attenuates the development of Dermatophagoides farinae-induced atopic dermatitis-like symptoms in NC/Nga mice. Heerim Kangab, et al
Efficacy of cocoa pod extract as an antiwrinkle gel on human skin surface. Azila Abdul Karim MEng, et al
Cocoa Flavanol Supplementation Influences Skin Conditions of Photo-Aged Women: A 24-Week Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial.Yoon HS1, et al
Chocolate flavanols and skin photoprotection: a parallel, double-blind, randomized clinical trial. Mogollon JA, et al
Eating chocolate can significantly protect the skin from UV light. Williams S1, et al
Consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa acutely increases microcirculation in human skin. Neukam K1, et al
Long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa provides photoprotection against UV-induced erythema and improves skin condition in women. Heinrich U, et al
Epidemiology of acne vulgaris. Bhate K, et al
Exacerbation of facial acne vulgaris after consuming pure chocolate. Samantha G.Block, et al
Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Assessing the Effect of Chocolate Consumption in Subjects with a History of Acne Vulgaris. Caroline Caperton, MD, et al
Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease. David L. Katz, et al
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