Cocoa flavanols may boost skin from within: 24-week RCT

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

Image: iStockPhoto
Image: iStockPhoto

Related tags: Flavonoid, Nutrition

High-flavanol cocoa supplementation may have positive impacts on facial wrinkles and skin elasticity in photo-aged Korean women, says a new study from scientists from Seoul National University.

Twenty-four weeks of consuming 320 milligrams per day of cocoa flavanols were associated with a 9% improvement in skin roughness, compared to a 1.3% improvement in the placebo group, according to findings published in the Journal of Nutrition.

The study included Korean women aged between 43 and 86 with visible facial wrinkles.

“In moderately photo-aged women, regular cocoa flavanol consumption had positive effects on facial wrinkles and elasticity,” ​wrote the researchers. “Cocoa flavanol supplementation may contribute to the prevention of the progression of photo-aging.”

Beauty from within

A report from Global Industry Analysts published in February predicted the nutricosmetics market will reach US$7.4bn by 2020. While the category is dominated by collagen-based products, there is increasing interest in the potential of cocoa flavanols to support or improve skin health.

For example, a 2006 study by scientists at Heinrich-Heine University in Dusseldorf, Germany reported that cocoa flavanols may thicken skin and reduce reddening by 25%.

“This study demonstrates that the regular consumption of a beverage rich in flavanols can confer substantial photoprotection as well as help maintain skin health by improving skin structure and function,”​ wrote the researchers in the Journal of Nutrition​ (Vol 136, pp 1565-1569)​.

Study details

cocoa chocolate
The cocoa flavanols used in the study were sourced from Barry Callebaut. Image: iStockPhoto

For the new study, the scientists recruited 62 Korean women with visible facial wrinkles to participate in their 24-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The women were randomly assigned them to either placebo or the cocoa flavanol supplements (Barry Callebaut Belgium).

Results showed that, in addition to the decreases in skin roughness, there were significant effects on skin elasticity at both 12 and 24 weeks for the cocoa flavanol consumers.

On the other hand, no significant differences between the two groups were detected for skin hydration and barrier integrity, said the researchers.

“The dietary consumption of antioxidants as well as the application of topical antioxidants can increase the amount of antioxidant in the skin,” ​they wrote. “Increased amounts of antioxidant in the skin can protect skin from UV-induced damage.

“Therefore, the consumption of dietary antioxidants has been considered to be a good strategy against photo-aging. Most antioxidants are derived from plants because oxidation protection is necessary in the UV-rich outdoor environment. Flavanoids are representative plant antioxidants, and important sources of flavonoids other than vegetables and fruit are cocoa, tea, and red wine.”

Source: Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.3945/jn.115.217711
“Cocoa Flavanol Supplementation Influences Skin Conditions of Photo-Aged Women: A 24-Week Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial”
Authors: H-S. Yoon, et al. 

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