Food Friday: Eat Chocolate for Sun Protection

Chocolat de Bonnat tasting

Planning a Caribbean get-away this winter? Don’t forget to pack some hot chocolate.

Several studies, including a well known one 2006 German researchers have shown that dark chocolate beverages high in flavonols (plant-based antioxidants), may have protective properties against damaging UV rays. In the study, they compared two groups of women. One drank flavonol-rich chocolate beverages  while the other drank a less potent chocolate beverage. When both groups were exposed to UV-light, those who drank the richer chocolate beverage suffered the least sunburn.

A 2009 study published in The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology similarly found that regular consumption of chocolate high in flavonols offered some protection against sun’s damaging rays.

What’s the sweet spot for protection? 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate was found to provide an SPF of 2 or 3. While that’s better than no protection, it certainly is not enough to adequately protect you from sun damage.

Since chocolate doesn’t list the amount of flavonoids it contains, look for brands with at least 70% cacoa. So, pack your broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 30 for optimum sun protection and toss a few dark chocolate bars like Ghiradelli’s Intense Dark Twilight Delight 72%, in your carry-on.

Photo credit: FCC, EverJean