Dark chocolate is associated with some positive physical health benefits. For example, this sweet food is associated with better cardiovascular health, thanks to the way it improves blood pressure and protects blood vessels.
However, there is good news for chocolate lovers all over the world, because dark chocolate has also been found to help relieve stress. One of the ways it reduces our stress levels is to affect our body’s release of cortisol.
Dark chocolate and cortisol levels
Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone. Among its many functions, it allows you to react when faced with pressure. Although this is great, if your cortisol levels remain high due to chronic stress, it can actually harm your health. Dark chocolate may help reduce some of these effects.
For example, a study involving dark chocolate and stress surveyed 65 healthy men. Among them, 31 people ate 50 grams of dark chocolate and 34 people ate the same amount of white chocolate. The color of these white chocolates looked like dark chocolate but did not contain flavonoids.of
Flavonoids are compounds found in plants and are associated with many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease), type 2 diabetes, and cancer.of
Two hours after eating dark chocolate or “fake” dark chocolate, these people fell into two stressful situations: mock interviews and completing a math problem in front of the audience. Measure their stress hormones before and after these stressors to see if chocolate has an effect.
Although all male bodies respond to stress, those who eat dark chocolate release less cortisol. They also release a small amount of adrenaline (epinephrine), which is another stress hormone. In simple terms, this means that their bodies respond less severely to stress.
Can other types of chocolate also help reduce stress?
The above research shows that dark chocolate can relieve stress better than white chocolate. But what about other types of chocolate? Can they help the body better cope with stress? According to a study, the answer may be yes.
This time it involved 60 people-men and women-who ate 40 grams of dark, white or milk chocolate every day for two weeks. Similarly, eating white chocolate does not seem to have a positive effect on stress. However, milk chocolate seems to help.
The study pointed out that people who ate dark or milk chocolate reduced the stress they felt by two to three percentage points. Researchers also found that these two types of chocolate have greater stress-relieving effects on women than men.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing a chocolate type with lower stress is that dark chocolate tends to provide more health benefits than other types of chocolate because it is the least processed. Its fat and sugar content is usually low.
How much should you eat?
If you want to try dark chocolate to relieve stress, the daily “dose” used in the above study is about 1.5 ounces. Note that even dark chocolate can provide a lot of calories—about 160 calories per day—so if you’re paying attention to your weight, don’t eat too much.
Eating dark chocolate can reduce stress without gaining weight
The good news is that dark chocolate is so beneficial, especially because the body’s normal stress response may make us crave more sweets. However, if we give in too frequently and participate in emotional eating, we will gain a lot of weight if we are not careful.
To enjoy dark chocolate without worrying about what effect it will have on your waistline, please consume it with caution. Do nothing when eating chocolate chips, so you can fully appreciate its taste and texture. The more you participate in this process, the less likely it is for you to overeat.
Some people refer to this conscious eating habit as chocolate meditation. This is a form of meditation where you pay full attention to the taste, smell and feel of dark chocolate when you perform deep breathing exercises.
In addition, the higher the cocoa content, the more beneficial to your health, so choose dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 80% or higher.However, the more cocoa powder, the bitter the chocolate. So, try some and see how high you can reach without sacrificing taste.