Scientists prove dark chocolate eases stress
The benefits of consuming dark chocolate for its antioxidant properties has been known, but until now dark chocolate was only suspected for easing stress. Now scientists have proven that dark chocolate alters metabolism and lowers stress biomarkers.
Consuming an ounce and a half of dark chocolate is now found to lower stress hormones in a study of highly stressed people, adding to the list of health benefits of cocoa flavinoids.
Dark chocolate can reduce risk of heart disease, relieve pain, lower blood pressure, and protect from skin cancer. The new findings show that daily consumption reduced stress hormones and other stress-related biochemical markers among study volunteers.
The authors write, "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."
Chocolate is complex, and rich in a variety of bioactive compounds. "The sheer complexity of a food matrix, such as dark chocolate, may determine a large variety of effects on the metabolism. Studies have indeed demonstrated the potential health implications of dark chocolate constituents, but rarely as a whole product."
The study included 30 stressed individuals who self reported anxiety levels as low or high. Using an approach called nutrimetabonomics, the researchers assessed the metabolic status of the study participants. The scientists used proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry (MS) to evaluate daily metabolic changes that occurred from consuming 40 grams of dark chocolate daily over a period of two weeks, measuring urine and blood samples.
The participants snacked on dark chocolate mid-morning (20 grams), and as an afternoon snack. After two weeks, metabolic changes that occurred from eating dark chocolate were intensified.
According to the results, "Intriguingly…profiling showed that chocolate-induced metabolic effects were statistically significant only in subjects with inherent high anxiety trait." Dark chocolate lowered levels of catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline, normetanephrine), corticosterone, and the stress hormone cortisol in the study group.
Additional evidence of the benefits of dark chocolate included "a partial normalization of stress-related differences in energy metabolism and gut microbial activities" - an important area of current research. Intestinal bacteria play a significant role in boosting immunity.
Dark chocolate is now shown to lower stress hormones in the body. The findings mean that consuming dark chocolate daily could lead to long-term beneficial health consequences associated with easing stress. Consider adding the tasty treat daily for better health.
"New evidence that dark chocolate helps ease emotional stress"
November 11, 2009