Chocolate that Reduces the Signs of Aging! | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Chocolate that Reduces the Signs of Aging!

Chocolate that not only makes us feel great, but also gives us young and healthy skin! Devon Smith finds out if it's too good to be true.

This new discovery has come from researchers within the University of Cambridge and a spinoff company called Lycotec. They have named it Esthechoc and state that it is “distinctly intense and velvety” in taste, whilst producing “healthy, smooth and luminous skin”. Esthechoc, also named Cambridge Beauty Chocolate, is 72.6% dark chocolate with a combination of cocoa polyphenols (or flavanols) and marine carotenoid astaxanthin, an antioxidant from algae. It is also the antioxidant that makes flamingos pink. Polyphenols and antioxidants are micronutrients found in many foods and natural sources, with properties that can neutralise free radicals (uncharged molecules) and reduce inflammation. They are highly influential in aging, as over time free radicals accumulate, damaging our tissues and leading to inflammation and wrinkle formation.

distinctly intense and velvety in taste, whilst producing healthy, smooth and luminous skin
Astaxanthin and cocoa polyphenols are combined using a new technique called the ‘astacelle crystal defence system’. The cocoa polyphenols are encased by asthacelle, in a process called micellisation. They are called asthacelles because the micelles are coated in astaxanthin – imagine a tasty truffle coated in delicious, silky chocolate. This allows for oxygen transport into tissues via plasma lipoproteins, proficiently delivering the cocoa polyphenols to the skin. The method also improves inflammation damage in blood and increases microcirculation. With enhanced nutrition and metabolism (the production of small energy molecules) wrinkles are reduced and skin is left looking ‘radiant’. Researchers state that the astacelle system guarantees efficacy and natural taste, so the chocolate bar will actually still taste of chocolate! However, let’s not get too excited yet!

Esthechoc has received 10 years of research and undergone in-house trials, which inventors say confirm its biological usefulness with backing from statistically significant improvements in biochemical and metabolic markers. Dr Ivan Petyaev, director of Lycotec states “in clinical trials we saw that inflammation in the skin starting to go down and the tissues began to benefit. We used people in their 50s and 60s and, 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. People using it claimed that their skin was better and we can see that the product is working to slow down ageing.”

suitable for vegans, vegetarians and even diabetics
Volunteers were given a 7.5g bar, containing 4mg astaxanthin and 11mg epicatechin polyphenols, daily for 3-4 weeks. That’s equivalent to eating 300g of wild Alaskan salmon (astaxanthin) and 100g bar of dark chocolate (flavanol activity)! Esthechoc is said to be suitable for vegans, vegetarians and even diabetics, with each bar containing only 38kcal and no hyperglycaemic effects observed during the trials.

Does this sound too good to be true? Some health experts are unsure of how robust Esthechoc is and believe Lycotec are making very strong claims, despite the lack of external clinical trials. There is also a worry about obesity, due to the requirement of daily intake of the chocolate, even though the chocolate bar only contains 38kcal. Furthermore, nutritional studies indicate that astaxanthin works better when directly applied to the skin, rather than when ingested. So potential customers could end up wasting money, whilst also eating unnecessary calories.

What’s more is that, in order to experience the effects of Esthechoc, you may need to be earning a hefty wage. Lycotec are marketing the chocolate bar to ‘elegant, educated and affluent city-dwelling women in their 30s, and businessmen, to support their appearance in a stressful environment and on their business travels’; so there’s no chance of us students trialling this ‘age-defying chocolate’! Esthechoc will be sold in boxes containing 21 x 7.5g individually wrapped chocolate bars (a 3-week long course). This means that if anybody wants to sample the chocolate before fully investing, they will likely be put off the idea. Nevertheless, we shall discover the taste and cost of the Cambridge Beauty Chocolate very soon, when it is presented to the world at the Global Food Innovation Summit in London.

If you would like more information on Esthechoc or the company behind this new wonder, check out the following websites: and

BSc Biology, AMSB. Currently a MRes Student at UoB. Newbie blogger interested in scientific communication and all things genetic. (@DevonCaira)


8th March 2015 at 11:47 am

Images from

John Loo