Does chocolate regularly tempt you? That may not be so bad after all. In fact, recent studies concur that there are some proven beauty benefits to eating chocolate in the right doses and with the right cocoa content.
About 2 or 3 ounces a week is all you need to get the benefits of chocolate, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D., M.S., wellness manager for Cleveland Clinic’s Lifestyle 180 program, on the You Beauty website (YouBeauty.com).
Most studies show that a cocoa content of at least 70 percent or more will have the highest nutritional impact.
So what’s in it for your skin?
Cocoa contains flavonols, phytonutrients that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
They help protect the skin from UV damage, thus leading to fewer wrinkles. They fight free radicals that could result in sun spots, and they increase blood flow, giving that coveted dewy glow.
“German researchers gave 24 women a half-cup of special extra-flavonoid-enriched cocoa every day,” said an article on CNN.
“After three months, the women’s skin was moister, smoother, and less scaly and red when exposed to ultraviolet light. The researchers think the flavonoids, which absorb UV light, help protect and increase blood flow to the skin, improving its appearance.”
There is even evidence published on the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website that cocoa beans applied topically helped prevent sun-damaged skin, including wrinkle formation due to the xanthine derivative found in the plant.
Epicatechin and resveratrol, two antioxidant powerhouses naturally found in the cocoa bean, are credited with delivering benefits to the heart, blood vessels, brain, and nervous system and even slowing down the rate of aging, according to Joseph Mercola, O.D., an osteopathic physician, in an article on the Food Matters website.
Preventing collagen breakdown
Dark chocolate helps reduce stress hormones and increases the production of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters, Kirkpatrick says on the You Beauty website.
The lower stress levels mean less collagen breakdown in the skin and fewer wrinkles.
Increased cell repair
The level of antioxidants in dark chocolate is actually higher than that of green tea, black tea, or red wine, according to a study conducted by the Department of Food Science and Technology, Seoul National University, and listed on the Kenshar Products website.
(Reprinted with permission from DermaMedsolutions.com)
• 1 mugful of unsweetened almond milk, hemp milk, or rice milk
• 2–4 tablespoons raw cacao powder
• 1 pinch cayenne pepper (Cayenne should be avoided by those who are sensitive to spicy foods, suffer from heartburn, hot flashes, or ulcers)
• 1 drop pure vanilla essence
• raw agave syrup, stevia, or xylitol to taste
Pour 1 mugful unsweetened almond, hemp, or rice milk into a stainless pot. Heat until just before boiling.
Add 1 pinch cayenne pepper. Add a drop of pure vanilla essence.
Mix in 2–4 tablespoons of raw cacao powder. It is very important to make sure that the pot is taken off the heat before adding the raw cacao powder, otherwise the heat will destroy the wonderful nutrient-rich benefits of the cacao.
Add sweetener (raw agave syrup, stevia, or xylitol) to taste. Optional: Add a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon. Serve hot. Makes one portion. High antioxidant levels lead to greater cell repair as well as cell-damage prevention.
Since blood flow is increased due to the improved function of blood vessels, there is also increased hydration and decreased skin roughness.
The copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc content promotes cell growth, repairs tissue, and increases the absorption of nutrients.
Try the healthy hot cocoa recipe in the sidebar. The way it is prepared helps preserve these valuable nutrients.
Watch out, though, when you purchase chocolate. Look for chocolate with a low sugar content and no milk or soybean ingredients that will actually detract from the benefits.
Mercola even recommends eating chocolate in its purest form—raw.
So when chocolate temptations get the better of you, remember to reach for dark chocolate, kick back, and savour the deep, rich flavour.
Your skin will thank you for the love.