No, I have not gone over the deep end by suggesting that dark chocolate may be useful for releasing anxiety and tension. I know dark chocolate has caffeine in it and stimulants aren’t very good for anxiety, but hear me out first before you get either incredibly excited (you ladies out there), or want to completely disagree and shut me out of your lives forever (please don’t).
Show Me The Proof!
Researchers decided to recruit 30 volunteers to consume dark chocolate for a time period of exactly fourteen days. These hand-picked volunteers took in a total of 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate each day during the entire study – consuming half in the morning and half in the afternoon. The volunteers were chosen due to their high levels of stress and anxiety on a daily basis – labeling themselves as “stressed out”. While the study was taking place, these people each had their blood and urine checked out as well as measured for their levels of stress related hormones. What did the results show? The high levels of stress hormones all dropped significantly at the end of that two week period after each of the volunteers consumed a dark chocolate bar each day.
OK, What Else?
Studies show that the antioxidants found in dark chocolate will also help to relax blood vessels that leads to a drop in blood pressure, and who doesn’t want that? There’s growing evidence that dark chocolate is great for the heart, as well as the positive effects it has on the mind due to the lowered risk of death in those who have already suffered heart attacks.
That’s not all!
Dark chocolate has extremely beneficial levels of magnesium, which truly explains the sedative effect that dark chocolate has on people that are known to become ‘stressed out’. Magnesium in the body becomes depleted as the body experiences more and more stress, and this can result in a complete imbalance in the biochemistry of the body. Go Chocolate!
Does this mean doctors will start prescribing dark chocolate for people who suffer from daily anxiety?
Unfortunately probably not, as much as the studies out there show the positive effect on mood disorders, the positive effects seem to be more temporary then an actual long lasting solution (sad I know). But is it worth it to experiment for a short amount of time for mild anxiety sufferers? I don’t see why not, but remember – there’s a big difference between the lightly processed brands, and the milk chocolate types that are found in many of the candy bars we see at the checkout at the grocery store. The raw, unsweetened cocoa powder types are high in antioxidant flavonols, and are extremely different from those typical commercial cocoa types that tend to be very high in sugar content and very low in antioxidants.
How much is too much?
Please don’t run out and buy a bag full of Kit Kats because the Anxious Athlete (that’s me) told you that dark chocolate may be beneficial for anxiety. It is lower in sugar levels than milk chocolate BUT it still contains sugar, and this may spike up your insulin levels and as we all may know high insulin levels are known to be a big cause for disease in general. If you eat the equivalent of a half a chocolate bar (6.7 grams) every week, you may see good results for stress and anxiety, even cardiovascular diseases and inflammation.
The quality kinds seem to have a very positive effect on stress and anxiety, as well as having other benefits. But remember, slow and steady definitely wins the race when it comes to dark chocolate consumption. Don’t beat yourself up when certain sugary craving presents itself, just don’t overdo it, and soon you may feel that you’ve found yourself a best friend in the fight against daily stress and anxiety.
Stop by http://www.anxietyend.com and pick up your free copy of the popular Anxiety Reducer Game Plan eBook that will begin lessening your anxiety levels today, as well as give you a deeper look into the terror filled former life of The Anxious Athlete.