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Women's Health: A cup of cocoa is good for your skin

High-flavonoid beverage improves blood blow and lessens sun damage

Chocolate — often hyped for its benefits to the heart — may also help maintain healthy skin.

German researchers have found that a cocoa drink high in antioxidant chemicals called flavonoids increases blood flow to the skin and protects against sun damage.

In one study, the researchers at Heinrich-Heine University in Dusseldorf and Witten-Herdecke University in Witten, Germany, had 10 women drink cocoa beverages with high or low flavonoid content.

Two hours later, blood flow and oxygen supply to the skin were significantly higher in the women who drank the cocoa high in flavonoids, but not in participants who had the low-flavonoid cocoa.

In another study, the same researchers provided groups of women with high- or low-flavonoid cocoa for 12 weeks and measured the effects on the skin of ultraviolet radiation similar to that emitted by the sun. Women who drank the high-flavonoid cocoa had significantly less skin reddening, roughness and scaling than those who had the low-flavonoid beverage.