Chocolate has been associated with romance since the age of the Aztecs, and its aroma is said to have as much power as its substance. So…go ahead, enjoy this day and the chocolate love that goes with it. Cocoa and chocolate foods can contribute significant amounts of heart (and skin)-healthy flavanols to the diet. The antioxidant content of dark chocolate is four times that of green tea. Also, chocolate’s built-in antioxidants help protect the skin from free-radicals.
Chocolate has another benefit—it contains caffeine, and studies show that topically applied caffeine may provide some protection against skin cancer and are anti-inflammatory as well. Not only the cacao beans, but also preparations of cacao bark, oil (cacao butter), leaves and flowers have all been used to treat burns, bowel dysfunction, cuts and skin irritations.
Background: All chocolate products begin with the cacao tree, which grows in tropical climates. In the process of making chocolate, pods are harvested and de-seeded. These seeds are fermented and roasted; then they squeeze the resulting chocolate liquor to separate the cocoa butter from the cocoa solids.
At this point, the manufacturing processes diverge, depending on the desired end product. For edible chocolate, they dry and sift the solids into what we know as cocoa powder to make the chocolate we use for cooking or eating. For cosmetic purposes, the cocoa butter and cocoa powder are separated and then mixed with various other ingredients to create the final product.
Bottom Line: You can enjoy the benefits of chocolate without guilt (in moderation of course) as part of a healthful balanced diet.