Why Eating Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Skin
The answer begins with an understanding of free radicals, which are the biological “bad guys” that damage cell structure. In the skin, this damage leads to the breakdown of collagen and blood vessels, which then manifests as uneven skin tone as well as sagging and wrinkling. Free radicals are the result of the oxidation of atoms, or the exposure of atoms to oxygen, which causes them to break apart and become “unpaired electrons,” or what are otherwise known as free radicals. These free radicals then steal electrons from otherwise stabile atoms, thereby preventing these atoms from providing cell structure, thus impairing the cells’ ability to function in a healthy fashion.
Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that benefit the skin, such as soluble fiber and valuable minerals, but more importantly, it also contains antioxidants, which prevent or diminish the cell damage caused by free radicals. On a molecular level, any compound that can donate electrons to counteract these free radicals is said to have antioxidant properties. These “good guy” antioxidants either break down the structure of free radicals or they neutralize them by providing an extra electron to pair up with the loose free radical, thereby rendering it stable and no longer capable of damaging cells.
The importance of these antioxidant biological compounds such as polyphenols, flavanols and catechins cannot be overstated. In addition to skin cell damage, which leads to the signs of aging, oxidative stress free radicals have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and eye conditions such as macular degeneration.
Unlike many of the things we love to eat which are not particularly healthy, the good news is that dark chocolate is both delicious and – more than most other foods – contains a wide variety of plant based antioxidants. To reap these benefits, be sure to eat only high quality dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa content. There is not only less sugar in chocolate with a higher cocoa concentrate but, specifically from a dermatological standpoint, the flavanols in cocoa have been shown to increase the blood flow to the skin which helps to protect it from sun-damage.