Is Chocolate Actually Good for You and Your skin? To answer that question, we must first qualify the type of chocolate that has benefits, which is at least 70% dark cacao (preferably organic cacao). We are not talking about the processed chocolate laden with sugar and milk.
Made from the cacao seed, dark chocolate is filled with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others. It also contains soluble fiber, and is packed with minerals such as magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, sulfur, and calcium. The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is excellent and it also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine.
The Facts: Chocolate and the Skin
The Institut für Experimentelle Dermatologie, Universität Witten-Herdecke, Germany conducted a study on the ingestion of high flavanol cocoa containing 329mg of antioxidants. The results demonstrated:
• an increase in blood flow of cutaneous and subcutaneous tissues.
• increases in skin density and skin hydration.
• skin thickness was elevated.
• transepidermal water loss was diminished within the same time frame.
• the skin surface showed a significant decrease of skin roughness and scaling.
In summary, dietary flavanols from cocoa contribute to endogenous photoprotection, improve dermal blood circulation, and affect cosmetically relevant skin surface and hydration variables. Dietary antioxidants contribute to photoprotection and are important for the maintenance of skin health, while minerals nourish the skin, and stimulants increase circulation.
So What about Chocolate Products applied to the Skin?
Our skin absorbs things that are applied to it. It fact, some elements can even enter the bloodstream through topical skin application (think medicinal patches). So, when applying dark chocolate (70%+ Cacao) topically to the skin, the antioxidants and minerals nourish the skin while the fatty acids hydrate, and the stimulants increase blood circulation. The result is the luminous glow of smooth, hydrated, healthy skin!
The Chocolate and Acne Connection…or Is There One?
Samantha Block, a second-year medical student at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and colleagues studied 10 men aged 18 to 35 who had previously been diagnosed with acne. Under the researchers’ supervision, they ate as much pure (100% Cacao) chocolate as they wanted in one sitting, up to a maximum of three 4-ounce candy bars.
At the start of the study, the men had an average of three pimples. By the fourth day, the figure had jumped to 13 and by the end of the week, they had an average of 18 pimples.
Also, participants who finished less than one 4-ounce chocolate bar had fewer than 10 pimples a week later, according to the study, presented an annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology. But the young man who ate the most chocolate — just about 8 ounces — had 70 pimples by the seventh day. “The numbers speak for themselves,” Block says.
This study may be an indicator but it is not conclusive. First, the sample size is very small. Second, the study did not establish a control group who did not consume any chocolate. In addition, some of the ingredients in pure chocolate, such as caffeine and its cousin theobromine, might have exacerbated the existing acne. The researchers are now planning a study of 28 people with acne in which some will be offered up to 6 ounces of pure chocolate and others will be given no chocolate at all.
So this study may be an indication of a connection between eating chocolate and acne but the jury is still out. Until there is substantive data, we suggest chocolate in moderation for acneic skin types.
Treat your skin this Valentine’s Day… Eat some dark chocolate and indulge in a luxurious Anti-Oxidant Facial with a Dark Cocoa Mask. Your skin will love it…and you will love the experience! Heck, we say throw in some Champagne too! Cheers!