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3 ways chocolate is eliminating your stress

We've all heard the jokes and stereotypes about women craving chocolate during PMS. It's been often anecdotally quoted that chocolate and help minimize the symptoms of stress, especially during "that time of the month".




I for one, particularly enjoy a hot cocoa, or a piece of dark chocolate at the beginning of my period. I never really understood why. Perhaps it was a placebo effect, perhaps it really worked. So, I set out find out whether chocolate really had an effect on our stress levels. I wanted to know whether it was a physiological or perceived effect. Both are valid, but I wanted to understand the difference.


After reading plenty of research papers on chocolate and its effects on stress (yes, this is what I do on my down-time...I'm a proud nerd). There is significant results that show chocolate does have a positive effect on our stress levels. However, some type of chocolate are more effective than others.


Here are the 3 ways chocolate can eliminate your stress:


ONE. Consumption of dark chocolate daily during a period of 2 weeks appears to be an effective way to reduce perceived stress in females.*


In this study it was shown that both Dark and milk chocolates have an effect on reducing stress. White chocolate on the other, had little to no effect. What's even more interesting is that the effects were more obvious in females than males.


TWO. Consumption of 40g of dark chocolate during a 2 week period can modify your metabolism and hormonal activity.**


The study states that there are "strong evidence" that dark chocolate has a positive effect on one's wellbeing. It actually reduced the excretion of cortisol, helped normalize stress-related energy metabolism and gut microbial activities. In the last few years, there's been more and more research supporting how your gut's microbial health can impact your mental and physical health.


THREE. Cocoa can help maintain and concentration of your cognitive performance during continuous and demanding tasks.***


This research suggests that even one dose of chocolate high in concentration of cocoa polyphenols can help you when tackling tough and arduous tasks.





That's amazing. We can officially remove guilt from our spectrum of emotions when eating chocolate (dark chocolate that is). However, just like everything else in life, I must remind us all to consume in moderation and with intention. A lot of the chocolate products out on the markets are NOT pure cocoa.


I once visited a cocoa plantation in Mexico, and the owners shared with me that they sell the cocoa beans at a different price to the shell. Wait, the shell? I thought all chocolate came from the beans. Apparently the shells contain similar flavours we associate to chocolate. So, often farmers will sell the shells at a lower cost to manufacturers of "candy bars". So, next time you buy a bar of chocolate, pay attention to the labelling and the ingredients list. Does it say "candy bar"? If so, it's probably packed with sugar and other not-so-great ingredients. Opt for genuine cocoa which is usually displayed as a percentage, and the packaging clearly states "chocolate" and not referring to itself as candy.


So friends, grab a piece of dark chocolate and let your stress melt away, literally.


Cheers,

Yaya




Sources:

*Al Sunni A, Latif R. Effects of chocolate intake on Perceived Stress; a Controlled Clinical Study. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2014 Oct;8(4):393-401. PMID: 25780358; PMCID: PMC4350893.

**J. Proteome Res. 2009, 8, 12, 5568–5579, Publication Date:October 7, 2009

***Akihiro Sasaki, Kei Mizuno, Yusuke Morito, Chisato Oba, Kentaro Nakamura, Midori Natsume, Kyosuke Watanabe, Emi Yamano, Yasuyoshi Watanabe, The effects of dark chocolate on cognitive performance during cognitively demanding tasks: A randomized, single-blinded, crossover, dose-comparison study, Heliyon, Volume 10, Issue 2, 2024, e24430, ISSN 2405-8440

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