Psychological stress can cause physical and psychological damage on the body. Luckily for you, dark chocolate has been found to reduce stress as well as increase mood! When stressed, a hormone called cortisol is released. This hormone, over time, can increase the risk for depression, lower the immune system, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart rate. Dark chocolate produces a compound that can block feelings of pain or depression temporarily. It is also rich in flavonoids, which in a variety of psychological studies, has been shown to improve mood and have anti-depressant effects. A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology stated that drinking a daily antioxidant rich chocolate drink (with 1.5 ounces dark chocolate), individuals felt calmer than those who did not. Another study showed that highly stressed people who ate 40 g of dark chocolate a day for 14 days showed a drop in their cortisol levels.
Worried about stress eating chocolate? Not a problem! Dark chocolate is more filling than milk or white chocolate and also helps reduce cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods—so you eat less!
It is suggested to consume 2-3 squares or 1 1/2 ounces of 70% (or higher) dark chocolate per day to receive these benefits. Choose organic and fair trade whenever possible.
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Jamie Pepper is a recent graduate from Georgia State University where she received her Masters in Health Science, and completed a Coordinated Program in Nutrition. She has a passion for sports nutrition and wishes to one day work with Olympic athletes. In her free time she enjoys finding different running routes as well as finding new and unique cuisines to try!