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Forever young with chocolate

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By Warren R. Heymann, MD
May 19, 2016

Recently we discussed how dark chocolate can exacerbate acne. How many times have you heard a patient complain that it’s just not fair — they’re getting wrinkles and are still breaking out? Here is some good news!

Kim et al have found that the administration of cacao powder attenuates UVB-induced skin wrinkling in mice. This occurs by altering genetic expression, most importantly for cathepsin G and serpin B6c. Cacao powder also protects skin by inhibiting matrix metalloproteinase I expression, thereby inhibiting the breakdown of the dermal matrix (1).

Cacao is the purest form of chocolate. It is processed far less than cocoa powder or chocolate bars. Regardless, chocolate is a marvelous source of antioxidants, being rich in polyphenols and flavonoids.

Yoon et al recently performed a double-blind 24 week study of Korean women and found that daily consumption of cocoa flavonols improved skin wrinkles and elasticity in human skin, with improvement being noted as early week 12 of supplementation. The authors acknowledge that the beneficial cutaneous effects are not as dramatic as one would appreciate with tretinoin, chemical peels, or laser resurfacing. They consider that its real benefit is by preventing photodamage (2).

In conclusion, recent studies point to the fact that chocolate may make you look younger.  People will think you’re a teenager, either by your lack of wrinkles, or by having a few pimples!

1. Kim J-E, et al. Oral supplementation with cocoa extract reduces UVB-induced wrinkles in hairless mouse skin. J Invest Dermatol 2016; 136: 1012-21.
2. Yoon HS, et al. Cocoa flavanol supplementation influences skin conditions of photo-aged women: A 24-week double-blind, randomized controlled trial. J Nutr 2016; 146: 46-50.

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