(Health Secrets) The good news for chocolate lovers the world over is that Swiss based Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest chocolate manufacturer, has brought out a new range of chocolate that claims to combat wrinkles, smooth the skin and slow the aging process. The new chocolate is known as Acticoa, and it contains antioxidants that are said to improve skin radiance by increasing elasticity and improving hydration. The chocolatiers claim that just 20g a day of Acticoa could have a dramatic effect on skin condition.
How Can Chocolate Combat Wrinkles?
This is not the first time chocolate has been associated with wrinkle reduction. At the end of 2009 a private Harley Street skin clinic, European Dermatology London, published research that showed a few squares of dark chocolate per day could combat wrinkles.
They showed that flavonols, water soluble plant pigments with strong antioxidant action, occur naturally in cocoa beans. Flavonols are able to neutralize cell damaging free radicals caused by UV exposure and smoking, among other things. Unfortunately, flavonols are usually destroyed during the chocolate making process, meaning that most of the chocolate we usually buy in the stores won’t benefit our skin at all.
The new Acticoa chocolate is rich in flavanols, which is what makes it unusual and gives it its wrinkle fighting properties, along with other possible health benefits. Names such as Chocacao, Minerva and Thorntons are all now selling Acticoa based products, including chocolate bars, chocolate drops, and chocolate covered cranberries. Although the majority of these are dark chocolate, there are some milk chocolate varieties available.
Other Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
The flavonols found in chocolate appear to have a wide range of other health benefits alongside improving skin condition. A team at the University of l’Aquila published research indicating that 100g of flavonol rich dark chocolate each day could significantly lower blood pressure. They also saw that it helped the body to metabolize sugar, which could be beneficial to people suffering from diabetes.
Professor Richard Hurrell from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology also believes that flavonols can improve blood pressure and cardiovascular health. He says, “Cocoa flavonols have a positive effect on blood flow. They could reduce blood pressure which could have a positive effect on cardiovascular diseases.”
Dark chocolate could also be useful for improving short term memory and brain function. Experts from the University of Nottingham have discovered that drinking a flavonol rich cocoa drink could boost blood flow to crucial areas of the brain for two to three hours. This could boost short term memory, improve performance during specific tasks, and increase alertness.
The Dark Side of Chocolate
Will all the possible health benefits of chocolate, it would be easy to overlook the negative aspects of eating too much chocolate. Depending on the type of chocolate you eat, it can be very high in sugar, meaning that too much chocolate can contribute to obesity. Those negative health implications of eating excessive amounts of chocolate could quickly outweigh the positives.
These tips can help you to positively include chocolate in your diet without putting on pounds:
- Choose dark chocolate, as this has greater benefits for health and generally contains less sugar than milk or white chocolate.
- Make room for chocolate in your diet by including it in your calorie quota, and using it to replace something else, such as sugar in your tea, or that mid morning muffin.
- Try to buy small chocolate bars. It’s easy to say you should just eat a couple of chunks every day, but once you’ve opened a big bar it can be hard to limit yourself to one or two pieces.
- Find low calorie alternatives to a chocolate bar that will provide health benefits and satisfy cravings at the same time. Organic cacao or cacao nibs, both rich in flavonols, can be used in health drinks and raw food bars combined with various healthy components, to provide a sweetening effect without producing a sugar spike.