Sure, it’s tasty, but chocolate’s appeal goes beyond flavor — boasting some surprising skin benefits. Find out what lies beneath that silky, mouth-watering exterior.
The cacao bean
Chocolate comes from the bean of cacao fruit. Cacao beans have been used medicinally for thousands of years. Fresh cacao beans are super-rich in antioxidants — molecules that protect skin from environmental damage — containing 10,000 milligrams of flavanol antioxidants for every 100 grams of cacao. Compared to other foods, they’re among the best sources of antioxidants.
Here’s how antioxidants fight free radicals and slow down damage.
- Free radicals. Our world contains harmful pollution, radiation, smoke and other chemicals, which create unstable molecules called free radicals. These unstable molecules “steal” electrons from nearby stable molecules. As a result, the formerly-stable molecules turn into free radicals, and a chain reaction ensues. So, what’s so bad about these free radicals? They can cause wrinkles, elasticity loss, skin damage and even cancer.
- Antioxidants. Fortunately, antioxidants save the day by donating one of their own electrons. This donation neutralizes the unhealthy chain reaction of free radicals. Even after donating an electron, antioxidants don’t become free radicals themselves. Instead, they remain stable and unaffected.
- Might prevent signs of aging. Because antioxidants in cacao defend against free radicals, they might be able to stave off lines, wrinkles and discoloration.
- Might offer UV protection. According to a study in The Journal of Nutrition, participants who drank a special chocolate drink every day for 12 weeks experienced “25 percent less skin redness in response to UV exposure and also improved their skin texture and hydration,” writes Rory Evans in Allure.
Getting the benefits
Don’t stock your shelves full of candy bars just yet. Preliminary research suggests that milk and dairy products found in candy may actually reduce antioxidant absorption. So, how can you ensure you’re getting those beneficial antioxidants?
Look for chocolate containing at least 50 percent cacao, and aim for three or four ounces daily, according to Allure.
Also, don’t assume that dark chocolate is less tasty than its lighter counterpart — many people actually prefer dark cacao for its intense and natural woody flavor.
Not a big fan of dark chocolate? Want additional antioxidant protection? Then, try out these skincare products.
If you love the scent of chocolate, check out these choices.
Learn everything you need to know about anti-aging skincare in our Anti-Aging Handbook.