Dark Chocolate for Stress

Not only have studies shown that eating dark chocolate can lower the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, relieve pain, and protect from skin cancer, a new study reports that eating dark chocolate may actually reduce your level of stress.

In the study conducted by researchers at the Nestle Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland and published in the Journal of Proteome Research, researchers looked at the effects of eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate (the equivalent of an average-sized chocolate bar) every day for two weeks in 30 highly-stressed adults, ages 18-35.

The participants (19 females and 11 males) ate half of the dark chocolate mid-morning and the other half in the middle of the afternoon.

To analyze the changes in the participants' stress levels, researchers collected blood and urine samples at the start of the study, at the mid-way point, and at the finish of the two-week period.

The data collected indicated that by eating the 1.4 ounces (40 grams) of dark chocolate every day for two weeks, the participants had a reduction in their levels of the stress hormones--cortisol and catecholamines.

Other studies have shown that eating dark chocolate can stimulate the production of endorphins (the "feel-good" hormones) and the release of serotonin (a natural antidepressant), which have both been linked with reducing stress levels.

Additionally, dark chocolate has a touch of caffeine that can provide a burst of energy and a mood boost in times of stress.

All of this is good news for those of you who are passionate about dark chocolate, but beware that chocolate has plenty of saturated fat and sugar, which can lead to weight gain. Tip: Enjoy small portions of dark chocolate as part of a healthy stress-reducing diet and combine with other stress-reducing strategies.


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Goode, E. The Heavy Cost of Chronic Stress. The New York Times. December 17, 2002.

Martin et al. Metabolic Effects of Dark Chocolate Consumption on Energy, Gut Microbiota, and Stress-Related Metabolism in Free-Living Subjects. Journal of Proteome Research, 2009.

Warner, J. Dark Chocolate Takes a Bite Out of Stress. WebMD.com. Nov. 13, 2009. http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/news/20091113/dark-chocolate-takes-bite-out-of-stress. Accessed Dec. 7, 2009.