Can Chocolate Prevent Sunburns?
The scoop on research looking at chocolate for sun protection
Edited By:Hadar Lev-Tov , MD, MAS
The sun projects ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is known to benefit our skin by promoting the synthesis of vitamin D. However, in excess, those UV rays can be damaging, accelerating skin aging and increasing the risk of certain cancers. While the leading sun protection habits include wearing sun protective clothing, avoiding intense sunlight, and ALWAYS applying sunscreen, research has shown that eating the right foods may also augment our skin’s sun protection abilities.
Chocolate in particular has become an interesting food for researchers as it may have anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, chocolate is known to be chock-full of a family of plant chemicals known as flavonols that may have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. With these preliminary findings and a penchant for chocolate, a group of researchers set out to see if eating chocolate might help protect our skin from the sun’s damaging rays.
Seventy-four women were recruited to this study and randomly separated into two groups known as the High Flavonol Chocolate (HFC) group and the Low Flavonol Chocolate (LFC) group. Both groups consumed one chocolate square three times a day. The HFC group ate chocolates that had 200mg of flavonols, while the LFC group ate chocolates that had less than 30mg of flavonols. During periodic follow up visits, the research team exposed the participants to UV light to see if those in the HFC group exhibited higher levels of UV protection. Unfortunately, the researchers found that NEITHER of the chocolate eating groups had improved protection against UV light exposure and concluded that consuming chocolate does not prevent sunburns.
We’re not saying you should stop eating chocolate. That would be cruel and unusual punishment for reading this article. Just don’t swap your sunscreen for chocolate and you should be alright!
Statistically significant sun protection due to chocolate: No
Clinically significant sun protection due to chocolate: No
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