This may be the best news you read all day. Chocolate is good for your skin! Yes, chocolate, that rich dark ambrosia your mother said caused breakouts and all your dateless weekends, actually has many redeeming qualities.
Research has shown that the cocoa bean has many health benefits. But make sure to select chocolate that’s low in sugar and free of milk or soybean products, which can counter the benefits.
So, how does chocolate help your skin?
Cocoa contains flavanols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. That means protection from UV damage, which causes wrinkles, sun spots and skin cancer. Also, epicatechin and resveratrol, two antioxidants in the cocoa bean, have benefits for the heart, blood vessels, brain and nervous system, helping to slow down the aging process.
And if you want another reason to enjoy that chocolate bar, remember that dark chocolate reduces stress and increases the production of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters –again an anti-aging benefit. In fact, there are more antioxidants in dark chocolate than green tea or red wine.
Of course, sadly enough, one cannot live on chocolate alone. If you’re searching for other foods that will give your skin a healthy, youthful glow, try these:
Olive oil. Olive oil beat out many others, including sunflower and peanut, because 75 percent of its fat is from monounsaturated fatty acids, which are believed to help with anti-aging. The antioxidant polyphenols in olive oil may also fight off free radicals.
Tomatoes. If you don’t want to burn the color of these beauties, try eating more of them. Research shows people who ate five tablespoons of tomato paste daily, along with a tablespoon of olive oil for 12 weeks, enjoyed more protection from sunburn compared to a control group that ate just olive oil alone, according to a 2008 British study. Apparently, cooked and processed tomatoes have particularly high levels of the antioxidant lycopene, which provides some protection from the sun’s harmful rays.
Oranges. These fruits have plenty of water, so they hydrate your skin. One large orange is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps make collagen and keeps your skin soft.
Avocados. You can’t go wrong with avocados which help your skin stay hydrated and are loaded with monounsaturated fat --again, the “healthy fat” that can help absorb vitamins and nutrients your skin needs. So, spruce up your salad with plenty of these green darlings.
Oats. Oats are the natural alternative to refined bread, rice and pasta –all of which are high-glycemic foods that can trigger acne and wrinkles. Low-glycemics like oats don’t raise your blood sugar and are generally better for health and anti-aging. They also have natural chemicals that treat skin irritation.
Salmon. This fish has omega-3 fats, which may keep skin cancer cells from growing and spreading. And salmon, of course, has other health benefits like increasing your cardiovascular health (those omega-3 fats again) and treating osteoarthritis and other inflammatory joint conditions, thanks to high amounts of bioactive peptides.
So, how about oatmeal for breakfast, topped off with a salmon dinner, lovely salad and dark chocolate for desert? Your skin will be glowing and chances are, even your mother will finally approve of your diet.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.