It may seem too good to be true, but guilt-free chocolate which promises to slow down the emergence of wrinkles and sagging skin, has been developed by scientists.
Introducing Esthechoc – an anti-ageing solution?
‘Esthechoc’ is the brainchild of a Cambridge University spin-out lab. It claims to boost antioxidant levels and increase circulation to prevent lines and keep skin looking youthful and smooth.
A 7.5g bar is said to contain the same amount of the antioxidant astaxanthin as an Alaskan salmon fillet.
It also claims to contain equal levels of free-radical fighting cocoa polyphenols as 100g of dark chocolate.
Developers say it can transform the skin of a 50-60 year old into that of someone in their 20s or 30s.
Tests showed that after four weeks of eating the anti-ageing chocolate every day, volunteers had less evidence of inflammation in their blood. They also showed increased blood supply to skin tissue.
Turning back the clock with anti-ageing chocolate
Creator Dr Ivan Petyaev, a former researcher at Cambridge University, said: “We’re using the same antioxidant that keeps goldfish gold and flamingos pink.
“In clinical trials we saw inflammation in the skin starting to go down and tissues beginning to benefit.
“We used people in their 50s and 60s. In terms, of skin biomarkers we found it had brought skin back to the levels of a 20 or 30 year old. So we’ve improved the skin’s physiology.
“Users claimed their skin was better and we could see the product working to slow down ageing.”
As the anti-ageing chocolate bar contains just 38kcal, developers say it’s even safe for diabetics.
A price worth paying?
But ‘Esthechoc’ is unlikely to be available in Britain’s corner shops. The confectionary – also known as ‘Cambridge Beauty Chocolate’ – is only available online or from high end retailers.
It also comes with a hefty price tag, as you might expect.
According to the brochure, its target market is ‘elegant, educated and affluent’ city-dwelling women in their 30s, as well as businessmen.
Naturally, health experts have been cautious about the product.
Is anti-ageing chocolate too good to be true?
Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine at Glasgow University, said more robust clinical trials would be needed to validate the ‘ridiculously strong’ claims made by the company.
“There may be biological reasons to think some of the compounds may benefit some processes linked to ageing and disease.
“But on the other hand, eating too much chocolate means more calories, which means obesity. So the net effect is never clear cut.
“These food claims need to be backed up with trials to have any genuine credibility.
“Such trials are glaring by their absence so all such health claims are unfounded.”
Is there a better way?
Nutrition experts at University College London (UCL) also warned previous trials showed astaxanthin worked better when applied directly to the face rather than ingested.
UCL nutritionist Dr George Grimble said: “There is a potentially sound scientific base to this, although it is obviously early days.
“There needs to be further clinical trials to show that it is safe. But astaxanthin has been shown to have antioxidant effects and low toxicity so, from that respect, it seems promising.
“Using dark chocolate is quite clever. As a nutritionist, I am generally in favour of dark chocolate.
“It’s got a good track record in terms of the science but it is too early to say what the long term benefits might be.
“In my humble opinion, it would be necessary for the company’s in-house trial to be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal for their health claims to be substantiated.”