Question: Is Dark Chocolate An Effective Stress Reliever?
Answer: Yes, the good news for chocolate lovers everywhere is that dark chocolate has been shown by research to have real stress relieving properties as well as benefits to health! Here’s one of the latest studies that looks promising for dark chocolate and stress relief: A clinical trial published online in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research found that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in people who felt highly stressed. They found that dark chocolate also partially corrected other stress-related biochemical imbalances!
In the study, Francois-Pierre Martin, Sunil Kochhar and colleagues identified reductions in stress hormones like cortisol, and other stress-related biochemical changes in volunteers who rated themselves as highly stressed and ate dark chocolate for two weeks. “The study provides strong evidence that a daily consumption of 40 grams [1.4 ounces] during a period of 2 weeks is sufficient to modify the metabolism of healthy human volunteers,” the scientists said in a press release.
As part of the study, the researchers cite growing scientific evidence of more benefits associated with dark chocolate:
- Antioxidants and other beneficial substances in dark chocolate may reduce risk factors for heart disease
- Dark chocolate’s antioxidants may reduce risk factors for other diseases and physical conditions as well
- Studies show that dark chocolate may ease emotional stress
This, however, is the first study of its kind that shows, in humans, exactly how dark chocolate may help with stress. (See this article from About.com’s Longevity site for more health benefits of chocolate.) It’s reassuring news that dark chocolate can be so beneficial, since the body’s stress response may make us crave more sweets, and emotional eating generally brings weight gain if we’re not careful. A small amount of dark chocolate, enjoyed mindfully, can be an effective and enjoyable method to relieve stress in those who have no medical reason why they can’t enjoy it.