A new study at Nestlé Research Center (where else?) Lausanne, Switzerland, found that eating just over an ounce of dark chocolate daily for two weeks lowered stress hormone levels in highly stressed people (that would be us) and also partially corrected other stress-related biochemical imbalances.
These are the same folks that published a photo of a Hersheys bar with the word “happiness” on it.
This research actually showed that by eating dark chocolate daily, you can lower anxiety levels and ease emotional stress.
Less stress = less stress eating
Eating dark chocolate regularly has been associated with lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and improved vascular dysfunction in diabetes. During pregnancy, eating chocolate may lower the risk of preeclampsia. The flavonoids contained in cocoa protect the brain from oxidative stress, improving brain function.
Now – eating chocolate to help reduce stress?
It doesn’t get better than that.
Of course, the key is to not overdo it and ADD stress in the form of binge eating, extra weight and feeling compulsively out of control.
You also do NOT want to be in the habit of reaching for chocolate in order to relieve stress – it doesn’t work that way! And you will only get into more stress eating habits by using it as a way to meet emotional needs.
I think the best way to use chocolate as a way to reduce stress overall is to make it a regular part of your daily routine.
If you savor the chocolate as a treat, you are giving yourself something “sweet” every day, not just when you have a desperate craving. Enjoying it this way should make you feel less deprived, AND improve your health at the same time!
So, how about an experiment – can you do it? Stick to 1- 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate per day? Without overdoing it (savor, savor, savor . . .) and without feeling guilty? (Hint – buy bags with individual wrapped portions, not big bars.) Let me know in the comments . . .
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