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Dark chocolate a natural sunscreen?

The numerous health benefits of dark chocolate are nothing new, but the list is about to get longer.

According to Canadian researchers, regular consumption of dark chocolate could help protect against sunburn.

Naturally rich in polyphenols — anti-oxident molecules that promote blood flow close to the skin –, dark chocolate is thought to protect against the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation.

Laval University’s Institute of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods (INAF) has invited chocolate lovers to test their hypothesis.

Sixty fair-skinned women between the ages of 25 and 65 are being recruted to eat three pieces (30 grams) of dark chocolate every day for 12 weeks.

During the course of the study, the women’s forearms will be exposed at regular intervals to measured doses of ultraviolet radiation and any skin changes will be observed.

The random, double-blind experiment will have some participants eating polyphenol-rich dark chocolate, and others consuming a placebo consisting of chocolate that has been stripped of its polyphenol content.

The results are expected to show that skin of participants who consumed the polyphenol-rich dark chocolate will redden less than that of the participants who ate the placebo.

The experiment is being restricted to women in order to ensure a homogenous hormonal profile among participants.

Previous experiments carried out in Germany and the U.K. have already shown promising results. The Canadian study, which involves the largest sample size to date, is expected to provide confirmation.

Not surprisingly, only chocolate containing at least 60 to 85 per cent cacao is thought to offer benefits, which means milk chocolate doesn’t count.

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Dark chocolate - the new sunscreen?

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