Dark Chocolate: The New Antianxiety Drug
December 12, 2009
The use of chocolate as a cure for emotional stress has gotten new support from a clinical trial. The trial found that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones.
There is growing scientific evidence that antioxidants and other beneficial substances in dark chocolate may reduce risk factors for heart disease and other physical conditions.
In the study, scientists identified reductions in stress hormones and other stress-related biochemical changes in volunteers who rated themselves as highly stressed and ate dark chocolate for two weeks.
In addition, a new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry compared the detailed cocoa antioxidant contents of commercially available chocolate and cocoa-containing products sold in the United States.
The top-selling three or four brands of natural cocoa powder, unsweetened baking chocolate, dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate, and chocolate syrup were purchased across the United States for the study. Each product was tested for antioxidant activity, total polyphenols, and individual flavanol monomers and oligomers.
These results were compared to the amount of nonfat cocoa solids and total polyphenols in each product, as well as to the calculated percent cacao.
The products with the highest level of flavanol antioxidants were cocoa powders, followed by unsweetened baking chocolate, dark chocolate and semi-sweet chips, then milk chocolate and finally chocolate syrup.