Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant also present in grains and nuts. Studies suggest that they may benefit the heart, blood vessels, liver, immune system, connective tissue, adrenal glands, kidneys, muscles and nervous system. Quite a number of studies suggest their ability to prevent coronary heart disease. Researchers at Nestle Research Center in Switzerland have discovered that a small portion of dark chocolate can actually lower one’s stress hormone levels. This is great news for all of you Type-A personalities!
The research team, led by Sunil Kochhar, studied 30 men and women. Each participant’s anxiety level was identified by distinct metabolic profiles. The subjects in the study agreed to eat 20 grams of dark chocolate around mid-morning and again in the afternoon. For us Westerners, 40 total grams is about 1.4 ounces. For comparison, a $2-size Endangered Species chocolate bar is 1.4 oz. One of those per day would meet the requirement.
After two weeks, the participants’ levels of stress hormones and other stress-related biochemical markers were again measured. The researchers observed that after two weeks of consuming 40 grams of dark chocolate per day, the participants’ levels of stress hormones and stress-related biochemical markers were reduced. As dark chocolate is rich in a variety of bioactive compounds that may partially correct stress-induced imbalances, the team concluded: “The study provides strong evidence that a daily consumption of 40 g of dark chocolate during a period of 2 weeks is sufficient to modify the metabolism of… healthy human subjects, as per variation of both host and gut microbial metabolism.”*
In other words, if you’re feeling uptight you might eat a piece of chocolate to help you mellow……….
*Francois-Pierre J. Martin, Serge Rezzi, Emma Per-Trepat, Beate Kamlage, Sebastiano Collino, Edgar Leibold, Jrgen Kastler, Dietrich Rein, Laurent B. Fay, Sunil Kochhar. “Metabolic Effects of Dark Chocolate Consumption on Energy, Gut Microbiota, and Stress-Related Metabolism in Free-Living Subjects.” J. Proteome Res., Publication Date (Web): October 7, 2009; DOI: 10.1021/pr900607v.