Foods that reduce stress: Chocolate

chocolate photo: Chocolate chocolate_001.jpg

People love chocolate; I love chocolate, you love chocolate, we all love chocolate. Chocolate is by far my favorite type of dessert, be it in ice cream, in a bar or biscuit form, I love it. So it should come as no surprise that when I found out that chocolate can help reduce stress that, one, I was the happiest man alive, and two, I was going to write something about it.

Yes chocolate lovers everywhere now have a valid excuse to wolf down all chocolate in sight, just tell people you’re stressed and you need the chocolate to help deal with it!

Well, actually it’s not that simple and straightforward, so let’s look into it.

An article by livescience.com talks about a study that was conducted by a group of scientists led by Sunil Kochhar of the Nestle Research Center in Switzerland. The scientists made a control group of 30 people, who rated themselves as highly stressed, eat 40 grams of dark chocolate everyday for two weeks. At the end of the two week period the scientists took urine and blood samples of the 30 people, and found reduced levels of the stress hormones cortisol and catecholamines. In short the study found that eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate can help reduce and manage stress. I want to put emphasis on the word ‘moderate;’ too much of anything is bad for you, you don’t want to overdose on chocolate and end up with diabetes now, do you?

Another article by sfgate.com also talks about how chocolate can reduce stress and it also mentions other benefits chocolates have.

The article explains how dark chocolate has more health benefits than milk or white chocolate, since it has less sugar and more healthy antioxidants. It talks about how dark chocolate helps lower your blood pressure, increase good cholesterol and help in sugar regulation.

It also reiterates what I mentioned before, moderation. Dark chocolate is good for you but it is still chocolate and it does have sugar and fat in it, so don’t use stress as an excuse and eat more chocolate. You’ll just end up with more health problems, which will cause more stress and that’s not the point of this blog at all.

You might find it interesting to know that author J.K. Rowling touches on this in her own way in the book, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”. In the book we are introduced to the creatures called Dementors, the guards of the wizard prison Azkaban. Rowling describes them as having the power to suck up all the happiness around them, forcing people to relive their worst memories and leaving them to only experience sadness and hopelessness, which is basically depression in a nutshell.

In her book, after someone survives a Dementor attack, the best way to recover is to eat some chocolate. She described her characters as feeling warmth spread through them after eating chocolate. So what Rowling is saying, without actually saying it, is that a good way to try to get out of depression is to eat some chocolate!

So the next time you’re feeling down, try eating a little dark chocolate and perk yourself up a little. Just don’t start eating so much that your friends and family need to do a chocolate intervention.

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