Can chocolate fight aging and make your skin glow?

Thu May 20, 2010 11:00am EDT
 
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By Katie Reid and Silke Koltrowitz

ZURICH (Reuters) - The world's largest chocolate maker says it may have come up with a chocolate bar that could fight wrinkles and slow the aging process, making it the latest food group to tap the appetite for healthier living.

Eating 20 g (0.755 oz) of specially developed chocolate packed with antioxidants, or flavanols, each day may help prevent wrinkles and make skin more radiant by boosting elasticity and improving hydration, studies carried out by Barry Callebaut showed.

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the nutritional value of what they eat, and Barry Callebaut's claims come as food giants such as Nestle and Danone also push into the healthy eating arena.

Dark chocolate has already been linked with certain health benefits, such as helping to lower blood pressure and reducing the risk of strokes thanks to its high content of antioxidants.

The Swiss group has developed a way of preserving the flavanols found in cocoa beans during the chocolate-making process, allowing them to produce a bar that is richer in flavanols, Barry Callebaut Chief Innovation Officer Hans Vriens said in an interview.

"Chocolate and health do not seem to fit together but it is a very interesting proposition: if I can eat something I like and it is good for me, that is great," Vriens said. "Chocolate is probably at the bottom of the list when you think about making food healthier."

Smoking, pollution, caffeine and a lack of sleep contribute to the creation of free radicals that can damage healthy cells in the body and accelerate the aging process.

"There is a huge body of evidence that shows flavanols slow down damage caused by free radicals," said Kepler Capital Markets analyst Jon Cox.   Continued...

 
<p>Chocolates topped with sunflower seeds are displayed during the 2nd Chocolate Fair in Barcelona October 21, 2006. REUTERS/Albert Gea</p>