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Dark Chocolate May Help to Reduce Stress Levels

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Dark Chocolate May Help to Reduce Stress Levels

Dark Chocolate May Help to Reduce Stress Levels
April 05
09:42 2012

Eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate every day can help reduce the hormones in your body that make you feel stressed, according to a Nestle study. Scientists from the Nestle Research Center (NRC) in Switzerland examined the biochemical basis for chocolate’s reputation as a comfort food. Their research revealed that the chemical compounds contained in dark chocolate may improve the disposition of people who experience higher levels of stress.

The Nestle study into dark chocolate’s effect on stress monitored 30 healthy adults for two weeks. Every day each participant was given 40g of dark chocolate – about four squares of a large bar. They consumed half the chocolate in the morning and the other half in the afternoon.

Those participants who recorded higher levels of stress at the beginning of the study experienced a reduction in the chemical reactions in their bodies associated with stress. The results showed the level of stress-related hormones reduced in all participants, including those who were not assessed as stressed at the start.

“When you are stressed your body’s chemistry becomes unbalanced,” explains Nestle scientist Dr Sunil Kochhar, who led the study. “In the long term this can be harmful to your health. We have found that eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate on a daily basis can help to balance the body chemistry of people who are stressed. It is possible to speculate that making dark chocolate part of a healthy balanced diet might lead to a chemical composition in the body that is better able to handle stress.”

The dark chocolate used in the study was made of up to 75% cocoa solids. These are rich in chemical compounds that affect your metabolism, the chemical reactions that happen in your cells.

“Anxiety and stress can have considerable effects on people’s wellbeing, causing a variety of physical and emotional conditions, and sometimes leading to more serious health concerns,” Dr Kochhar continues. “These results strongly support our ongoing research efforts to establish the impact of certain food ingredients on human metabolism, and how they affect our health.”

The study, published in the Journal of Proteome Research, is one of several conducted by the Nestle Research Center into the emerging health benefits of dark chocolate. Nestle scientists collaborated with experts from BASF, the world’s leading chemical company, and Berlin-based scientific organisation Metanomics on an earlier study. This examined the effects on microorganisms in the human gut associated with eating dark chocolate regularly.

The NRC has also collaborated with Loughborough University, a leading sports science institute in the UK, to investigate the use of dark chocolate as an effective snack alternative for active people.

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