Eating chocolate can significantly protect the skin from UV light

J Cosmet Dermatol. 2009 Sep;8(3):169-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2009.00448.x.


Background: Cocoa beans fresh from the tree are exceptionally rich in flavanols. Unfortunately, during conventional chocolate making, this high antioxidant capacity is greatly reduced due to manufacturing processes.

Aim: To evaluate the photoprotective potential of chocolate consumption, comparing a conventional dark chocolate to a specially produced chocolate with preserved high flavanol (HF) levels.

Methods: A double-blind in vivo study in 30 healthy subjects was conducted. Fifteen subjects each were randomly assigned to either a HF or low flavanol (LF) chocolate group and consumed a 20 g portion of their allocated chocolate daily. The minimal erythema dose (MED) was assessed at baseline and after 12 weeks under standardized conditions.

Results: In the HF chocolate group the mean MED more than doubled after 12 weeks of chocolate consumption, while in the LF chocolate group, the MED remained without significant change.

Conclusions: Our study demonstrated that regular consumption of a chocolate rich in flavanols confers significant photoprotection and can thus be effective at protecting human skin from harmful UV effects. Conventional chocolate has no such effect.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cacao / physiology*
  • Candy / radiation effects*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Energy Intake
  • Erythema / epidemiology
  • Erythema / prevention & control
  • Flavonoids / administration & dosage
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Nutritive Value
  • Radiation Protection / methods*
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Flavonoids
  • flavan-3-ol