Every summer, millions of people take to smearing on sunscreen in an attempt to keep the skin from becoming a blistering, red mess. Getting a bad sunburn is always a quick way to ruin a few summer days. It’s also a painful reminder to take better care of yourself.
It’s understandable, of course. We’re guys. We’ve got better things to do than smear on goop out of a bottle. When we were kids and outside every day, we rarely needed sunscreen. We spent enough time outdoors that we nearly always had a good enough base tan to keep from getting burned.
Fast forward to adulthood and things change. Spending all those days at work and evenings inside can lead to some pretty white skin that turns red faster than a stoplight when you’re already late for work.
For anyone who’s experienced that first sunburn of the summer, a bottle of sunscreen can usually be found nearby for the rest of the summer season. But what if sunscreen was unnecessary and eating chocolate was all that was needed to keep the sun from scorching our skin? Wouldn’t that be far more fun and tasty?
As it turns out, pure chocolate has a great amount of flavanols that offer a photoprotective shield to the skin. Flavanols are naturally occuring antioxidants found in many foods. Antioxidants serve a lot of benefits to the body.
Before getting too excited about curing sunburns with chocolate, it should be noted that most all of your traditional store-bought candy bars have gone under a production process which removes the flavanols, so eating a Snickers bar is not going to help your cause here.
Flavanols are found in the pure and natural bitter tasting chocolates that have yet to hit the processing lines. In fact, if the chocolate you’re eating tastes sweet, you can almost bet that the flavanoids are no more. Dark chocolates typically contain more flavanols that other chocolates but production can even render these chocolates void of such antioxidants.
Disparage not though. Natural chocolate makes for a delicious treat and while it does taste considerably different than “Americanized” chocolate, there are brands that you will likely enjoy. There are also options that have sugar added for taste but remain unprocessed for retention of flavanols. CocoaVia is one such option, which is a cocoa extract that promises over 250mg of cocoa flavanols per serving.
The Sunshine and Chocolate Study
The 2009 PubMed study looked at the types of different chocolates and examined the photoprotective qualities of these chocolates, comparing them against each other in terms of UV blocking effectiveness.
The randomized study looked at 15 different individuals who were assigned either a high-flavanol (HF) or low-flavanol (LF) group for 12 weeks. During this time, all participants were assigned a daily portion of chocolate.
The conclusion stated that eating chocolate rich in flavanols offered “significant photoprotection” and “can thus be effective at protecting human skin from harmful UV effects.”
And if you’re still considering that Kit-Kat to get the job done, the study concludes by saying, “Conventional chocolate has no such effect.”
Don’t get us wrong. Conventional candy bars still serve their purpose from time to time. They might not power your mitochondria but they make for great cheat day snacks. When it comes to chocolate for sunscreen though, look to flavanoid-rich chocolates and enjoy that summer sun.