Researchers at Laval University in Quebec City are testing to see whether regular consumption of dark chocolate helps fend off sunburns.

They say dark chocolate contains chemicals that provoke blood flow close to the skin, which helps protect against ultraviolet rays.

The researchers at the university's Institute of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods are looking for volunteers willing to eat a small amount of chocolate every day.

Those volunteers will be exposed to sunlamps and tested against a control group.

Bruno Riverin, one of the institute's researchers, said chocolate lovers who've already signed up are mostly enjoying themselves.

"They think it's fun, it's interesting, it's new, it's original to consume chocolate in the hope that it has benefits on your health," Riverin said.

Riverin said he and his colleagues are looking for female volunteers with fair skin, between the ages of 25 and 65, who are willing to eat a small amount of chocolate every day and visit the lab once a week for 12 weeks.

He said chocolate contains high levels of antioxidant chemicals known as polyphenols, which increase blood flow close to the skin.

"More blood flow close to the skin would help protect against coup de soleil, sunburn," Riverin said.

Riverin said finding volunteers has not exactly been difficult.

"So far it hasn't been very hard. Chocolate is a very sexy food."