In vivo and in vitro studies have shown that prolonged oral administration of flavanol rich cocoas extracts have photoprotective effects. The aim of the present study is to assess the photoprotective activity of short-time administration of a new variety of naturally selected cocoa extract rich in bioactive compounds.
We selected a cocoa powder particularly rich in polyphenols, flavanols, caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. We then investigated, in 10 healthy subjects, the photoprotective effects of one week of daily oral administration of two doses of such powder.
Phototesting with solar simulated radiation was performed at baseline and after cocoa supplementation. Visual assessment of the minimal erythema dose and spectrophotometric measurement of the "a" parameter were done after 24 hours from the irradiation.
Oral daily supplementation of 1 g of high-flavanol cocoa was not effective but a one-week administration of 4-6 g of cocoa induced a statistically significant increase of the visual erythema threshold and a significant reduction of the "a" parameter. We demonstrated that a new variety of naturally selected cocoa extract, even when administered for a short time, retains a dose-dependent photoprotective effect.
These results are also indicative of the fact that topical sunscreens could be supplemented by a specific diet.