Drinking a cup of hot cocoa a day, apart from providing protection from sun, helps in maintaining a youthful skin.
Researchers at the Heinrich Heine University, Dusseldorf, Germany, found that women, who drank antioxidant-rich brand of hot cocoa for three months regularly, developed smoother, well-hydrated skin which is less vulnerable to suntan. This is due to the presence of large amounts of flavonol, an antioxidant, present in cocoa.
Flavonol are a group of plant compounds that are commonly found in tea, certain fruits and vegetables, wine, and in cocoa beans. Earlier studies had revealed that flavanols also improve blood circulation and better functioning of blood vessels.
Among 24 women who were randomly offered a cup of high-flavanol/low-flavonol cocoa on a daily basis, the researchers found that the high-flavanol group showed marked improvements in their skin texture, thickness, blood circulation and hydration. Their skin was also less prone to suntan by the end of three months of study.
The researchers made use of sensitive imaging tests to measure the skin structure, blood flow, hydration and sensitivity to UV radiation.
The findings suggest that dietary flavonols from cocoa contribute to endogenous photo-protection, affect relevant skin surface, improve dermal blood circulation, and hydration variables.