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If you find yourself at the beach and without a hat or sunscreen, could chocolate be your ad-hoc UV ray protectant? Some skin researchers believe that the antioxidants in cocoa beans might help the skin resist sunburn.

Take for example, Dr. Wilhelm Stahl, a professor at the Institute for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany. In his 2006 study, 24 women drank a chocolate beverage that contained either 27 milligrams or 329 milligrams of cocoa flavanols once every morning for 12 weeks. In the end, he found that the group of women who consumed the drink with 329 milligrams experienced less redness than the group that drank fewer cocoa flavanols.

In another study conducted by Dr. Stefanie Williams at the Cosmetic Science Group at the London University of the Arts, participants ate 20 grams of chocolate that either contained high-antioxidant cocoa with over 600 milligrams of flavanol or standard chocolate with only 30 milligrams of flavanols for 12 weeks. Similarly, the group that consumed fewer flavanols was more vulnerable to sun damage.

However, a more recent study from the St. François d'Assise Hospital, Université Laval in Quebec, Canada found that the daily consumption of chocolate didn’t protect participants’ skin from UV rays. Unlike the other studies, Dr. Sylvie Dodin directed participants to eat 10 grams of chocolate three times a day for 12 weeks instead of one large dosage. Although, this case was not in chocolate’s favor, the researchers did find that the group that ate high antioxidant chocolate experienced more skin elasticity.

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