Taking A Bite Out of Stress

Work, kids (okay, or parents!), relationships, bills…sometimes life can be a lot! Need to de-stress? Have some dark chocolate!

Seriously, we’re not kidding!

A new study published in Antioxidants shows a 29% reduction in cortisol, the hormone our brains trigger from our adrenal glands in response to stress, following four weeks of high-flavanol chocolate consumption.

It’s cortisol levels that researchers look at in clinical trials when measuring stress. In fact cortisol levels that remain too high for too long (high stress over time) have been associated with weight gain, high blood pressure, sleep disruption, mood impairment, reduced energy and high blood sugar.

This recent study, led by Catherine Tsang at Edge Hill University in the UK, involved dark chocolate, so of course, it caught our attention!

Participants were randomized to either consume high flavanol dark chocolate (500mg of cocoa flavanols) or low flavanol chocolate (negligible flavanols) daily over a period of four weeks. Cortisol levels were measured at study onset, and then again at two weeks, and four weeks.

Daily cortisol levels fell dramatically in the high flavanol chocolate group but increased slightly in the low flavanol group!

Participants were also asked to self-rate their mood. Researchers observed strong trends regarding increased frequency of self reported positive emotions and decreased frequency of negative emotions among participants!

So, like we said, need to de-stress? Take a deep breath, and a big bite of high-flavanol dark chocolate! (And maybe share some at work and at home too…)