Q. I’ve recently read that dark chocolate can help the skin resist the ultraviolet rays of the sun due to its antioxidant qualities. Is that really true?
A. You would need to consume high-flavanol (antioxidant) chocolate or cocoa for several months to get this benefit, but it is real. In one study, women were randomly assigned to drink either high-flavanol or low-flavanol cocoa for three months. The response to ultraviolet (UV) exposure was measured at the beginning and end of the trial. Skin reddening dropped 25 percent in the women on high-flavanol cocoa (Journal of Nutrition, June, 2006).
Another investigation had a similar design, but the subjects were given conventional low-flavanol dark chocolate or special high-flavanol dark chocolate (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, Sept., 2009). After 12 weeks, the high-flavanol group could manage twice as much UV before burning. Supplements such as CocoaVia offer flavanols without the fat and calories of candy. There is more information about chocolate, one of our favorite foods, in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies, available in libraries, bookstores and here.
If you don’t care for chocolate, consider tomatoes. A study in the British Journal of Dermatology (Jan., 2011) demonstrated that women who consumed tomato paste in olive oil for three months got significant protection from sunburn.