Choosing Chocolate as Your Dietary Antidote for Stress

chocolate candies
Food as Medicine

chocolate candiesWhen you are under stress, do you crave certain foods? While emotional eating is not a good way to combat stress, and usually isn’t good for your health either (unless you are craving kale on stressful days), one body of research suggests dark chocolate could be a great stress-antidote.

According to a study, published in the Journal of Proteome Research, individuals who are highly stressed benefit from daily consumption of dark chocolate.
First, a note about the research. The study was small, involving only 30 people. Secondly, it was only a 2 week clinical trial. Lastly, the study’s objectivity could be questioned because the scientists worked for the Nestle Corporation.

All of that aside, here is what they found.

Researchers analyzed the stress and anxiety levels of study participants at the onset of the research, taking blood and urine samples to look for stress hormones like cortisol. Then, subjects were given dark chocolate twice daily for a total daily allowance of 1.4 ounces (just less than a standard Hershey’s bar, for size reference).

Anxiety levels were reassessed at the halfway point and after the two-week period. Also, urine and blood samples were updated.

Both hormone levels and self-assessed stress levels decreased over the two-week period.

“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 researchers concluded.

Despite the limitations of the study, and there are many, there is little doubt the antioxidants within dark chocolate have health benefits. These flavonoids, also found in red wine and fruit, have been shown to have positive effects on everything from blood pressure to skin health.

Also, it’s important to note, the best benefits of chocolate are found in dark chocolate with cocoa concentrations of at least 70%. This means your cash-register candy bar isn’t likely to fit the bill. Instead, search out organic, high quality cocoa with little or no sugar.

Also, if lessening anxiety and stress is your goal, try daily exercise and herbs for anxiety including kava and chamomile.

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