It is well known that luscious, creamy, slightly bitter dark chocolate has overall health benefits. This seems like a good enough reason to justify my occasional dark chocolate fixes but it just did not seem to satisfy my guilt over consuming the calories. I wanted to probe a little deeper and find a further reason to satisfy my dark chocolate fix without the guilt. It turns out not only is chocolate good for your overall health it also has benefit for your skin including some anti-aging properties. Whoa, dark chocolate can help me keep my youthful glow! Okay, I agree this sounds a little too good to be true. But, then I read about a recent 24-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study that was conducted in Korean women aged 43-86 years old with sun damaged skin. The study participants were randomly assigned to receive a placebo beverage or cocoa beverage that contained 320 mg total cocoa flavanols/d. This is the equivalent to about 3 sections (~ 40 grams) of one of my favorite chocolate bars.
Ultimately, the study concluded that in moderately photo-aged women (that’s me, I also live in Florida, double whammy) regular cocoa flavanol consumption had positive effects on facial wrinkles and elasticity. Cocoa flavanol supplementation was also found to possibly contribute to the prevention of the progression of photo-aging. (Yoon HS et al.) While these data are certainly convincing I wanted to read a bit more on the subject. I found an abundance of research articles saying many of the same things that the plant polyphenols found in dark chocolate possess anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory antioxidant properties and they provide support for DNA repair activities. (Scapagnini G et al.) Overall, the plant polyphenols found in dark chocolate can be one more tool in our sun protection and skin care tool box for the fight against the effects of sun damage and aging skin. Reducing sun damage and aging skin also prevent a variety of skin disorders caused by excessive exposure to solar UV light including skin cancer.
So my dark chocolate friend if you are going to help my body maintain its youthful glow I am sold guilt-free.
Here is one of my favorite hot chocolate recipes made from a dark chocolate bar. This is a recipe for 1 so keep it for some special me time or as an indulgence for someone special.
Decadence in a cup:
1/3 of a 3 oz dark chocolate bar
2/3 – 3/4 cup of milk or half and half depending on your preference for decadence
1 pinch of cinnamon or add a cinnamon stick
Place chocolate pieces in a saucepan over low heat; add milk and stir constantly until chocolate is melted and the mixture is well blended, about 3-5 minutes. Whisk in cinnamon. Remove from heat; add more milk if desired, a cinnamon stick (if desired) or a tsp of sugar for a little more sweetness. Serve in your favorite mug.