An article in the Daily Telegraph of May 2018 caught my eye. It was actually a work reported to have been done at the Cambridge University.
It was titled “Anti-aging chocolate which reduces wrinkles developed by Cambridge University spin-off”.
It noted that a daily 7.5g bar of the chocolate can change the underlying skin structure of a 50-year-old to that of someone in their 30s.
The scientists had developed a chocolate with the promise to slow down the emergence of wrinkles and sagging skin.
The product ‘Esthechoc’, the brainchild of a Cambridge University spin-off lab, boosts antioxidant levels and increases circulation to prevent lines and keep skin looking youthful and smooth.
“Esthechoc is a combination of highly potent active substances, Astaxanthin and Cocoa polyphenolic epicatechins (found naturally in chocolate). Unique micellar technology used during production of esthechoc makes these actives bioavailable. In a related article in the Daily Mail noted that after 10 years of extensive research and medical trials, scientists at Cambridge Chocolate Technology have developed what they call the ‘world’s first functional dark chocolate” that claims to promote healthy, smooth and luminous skin.
A daily portion of Esthechoc (7.5 grams, which has 38 calories) promises to increase the level of antioxidants in the skin, improving its microcirculation, raising its oxygen level and preventing aging.
Esthechoc contains 70 per cent cocoa and combines two antioxidants that contain strong anti-aging properties: cocoa flavanols and astaxanthin carotenoid.
Tests conducted on 3,000 women aged between 50 and 60, who added the chocolate to their daily diet for three weeks showed that biomarkers and metabolic parameters of their skin had been brought back to a level typical of people aged between 20 and 30.
The lead investigator noted that a daily dose helped the skin to regain its firmness, radiance and luminosity. When consumed regularly it protected the skin against the aging process.
The developers of the product are targeting elegant, educated women in their 30s, and businessmen who sought to improve or maintain their appearance in a stressful environment.
It is not difficult to find out why the combination was made between astaxanthin and cocoa. There is support in a paper by Andujar et al titled “Cocoa Polyphenols and their potential benefits for human health”, Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, Volume 2012, Article ID 906252, 23 pages, doi:10.1155/2012/906252.
In their natural state, cocoa beans are virtually inedible because of their high concentration of polyphenols, which gives them an extremely bitter flavour.
In a final cocoa product such as chocolate, polyphenol content might decrease from 100% to 10% throughout the different manufacturing processes. For this reason, various authors have focused on the effects of polyphenol-enriched extracts from cocoa.
Three groups of polyphenols can be identified in cocoa beans: catechins, which constitute about 37% of the polyphenol content in the beans, anthocyanidins (about 4%), and proanthocyanidins (about 58%).
Of the catechins, (−)-epicatechin is the most abundant (up to 35%), while (+)-catechin, (+)-gallocatechin, and (−)-epigallocatechin are present in smaller quantities.
In the case of anthocyanidins, the main compounds are cyanidin-3-α-L-arabinoside and cyanidin-3-β-D-galactoside, while in the case of procyanidins, the main compounds are dimers, trimers, or oligomers of flavan-3,4-diol linked by 4 → 8 or 4 → 6 bonds.
Cocoa Vrs Others
Cocoa has more phenolics and higher antioxidant capacity than green tea, black tea, or red wine. Many people do not know the anti-oxidant capacity of cocoa.
Cocoa contains 611 mg/serving of gallic acid equivalents and 564 mg/serving of epicatechin equivalents. The values for gallic acid equivalents were 1.8, 3.7, and 4.9 higher than those obtained for red wine, green tea, and black tea, respectively, while the epicatechin equivalents were 3.5, 12.0, and 16.6, respectively, for the same beverages.
The authors noted that on a per-serving basis, cocoa has higher flavonoid content and antioxidant capacity than red wine (2 times), green tea (2-3 times), and black tea (4-5 times), respectively.
Excess generation of free radicals may overwhelm natural cellular antioxidant defences leading to oxidation and further contributing to cellular functional impairment.
Cocoa Suppresses Aging Process
The identification of free radical reactions as promoters of the aging process implies that interventions aimed at limiting or inhibiting them should be able to reduce the rate of formation of aging changes with a consequent reduction of the aging rate and disease pathogenesis.
Another study noted the suppression by a cocoa polyphenol extract (100 mg/kg, orally) of aryl hydrocarbon receptor transformation.
The anti-aging extract suppressed the induced transformation to control levels by inhibiting the formation of a heterodimer between the aryl hydrocarbon receptor and an aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator in the liver.
The extract also suppressed 3-methylcholanthrene-induced CYP1A1 expression and NAD(P)H: quinone-oxidoreductase activity while increasing glutathione S-transferase activity after 25 hours.
The authors concluded that the intake of cocoa polyphenol extract suppresses the toxicological effects of dioxins in the body and thus presented beneficial anti-aging properties.
The mention of increasing glutathione activity should elicit interest in many people because of the pitch of the compound as a strong anti-oxidant. Many years ago, cocoa was regarded as a food of the gods. It was revered and remained the preserve of only royals.
They would not have had the benefit of science as we do today. There was something they could, however, vouch for – the improved wellbeing.
The work done by Cambridge University is another proof of the anti-aging and other health benefits of cocoa – there is the need to consume more cocoa for good health.