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Chocolate Protects Your Skin

Since this upcoming weekend is Easter, and chocolate has somehow wiggled its way into this holiday, the next two posts (today and Friday's) will be on recent studies into the health benefits of this delectable superfood.

Today I'll discuss chocolate's benefit to skin health, where a daily supplement with a cacao extract was shown it could reduce UV-induced skin aging and protect against wrinkles. In fact, this isn't new--we've known about the skin health benefits of chocolate and UV protection for some time now. However, this study discovered some epigenetic mechanisms (factors that can turn on and off genes). In this animal study, mice supplemented with the cacao powders were found to have 788 genes that were expressed differently than in the control group.

Among these genes were ones reported to play important roles in UVB-induced skin wrinkle formation. Anti-wrinkle effects were also observed via inhibition of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP), which are over expressed due to repeated exposure to UV light. MMP-1, which was reduced in this study, is known to decrease procollagen production and break down collagen fibers, which causes wrinkles.

“Our studies indicate that cacao powder supplementation contributes to a reduction in wrinkle formation and collagen degradation,” wrote the researchers. “Transcriptomic changes in response to UVB-irradiation in cacao powder -supplemented mice provide evidence for an anti-photoaging effect of cacao powder extract. Oral treatment of cacao powder significantly down-regulates cathepsin G
while up-regulating serpin b6c, which itself is known to inactivate cathepsin G. Therefore, cacao powder supplementation may prevent breakdown of the dermal matrix.

“These results underline the potential for cacao powder extracts to be further developed as anti-photoaging agents.”

So as we emerge from our winter dens with our delicate and UV-sensitive skin, this weekend is probably a good time to start eating healthy dark chocolate and build-up some tolerance to the UVB rays that will shine down on us as we move into the summer month (in the Northern hemisphere).

Hope you think of me while you eat it!  :)

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Source: Oral supplementation with cocoa extract reduces UVB-induced wrinkles in hairless mouse skin

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