Good news for all the chocolate lovers! Now, you don’t need to worry about grabbing a chocolate bar regularly because according to many studies, eating dark chocolate can help ease stress, and it also has several benefits to health.
Research says that people who said that they were highly stressed were later reported to have lower levels of stress hormones after eating chocolate regularly for two weeks. The subjects consumed 1.4 ounces or 40 grams of dark chocolate on a regular basis. This amount is equivalent to or a bit less than a regular-sized Hershey’s bar (44 grams).
The researchers generated these results by taking urine and blood plasma samples from the participants at the beginning of the study, and at the end of the two-week study, they found out lesser levels of stress hormones, cortisol and catecholamines.
Another study was conducted by the researchers at Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences in Southern California that concluded: dark chocolate can make you feel happier due to sugar and can have a positive effect on your brain health.
After analyzing both these studies, the researchers found out that the dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa in it (over 70 percent), can reduce stress levels and inflammation.
According to nutritionist Cassandra Barns, cocoa in dark chocolates is rich in magnesium that can help in calming our nervous system and contains a natural chemical known as phenylethylamine (PEA), which is associated with good mood.
Stress Reduction through Chocolate
One can use dark chocolate, in appropriate quantities, as a tool for stress reduction. It can regulate our mood by boosting endorphin and serotonin levels in the brain. According to a published research (in the journal “Proteome Research”), eating chocolate as little as 1.4 ounces only for two weeks (regularly) is a great way to reduce stress as it decreases the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
In fact, pregnant women who eat more dark chocolate during their pregnancy period, give birth to healthy, stress-free babies.
– Psychology Today.
Opt for Dark
Darker the chocolate is, the lower the quantities of unhealthy ingredients it will have (such as sugar and fat). Opt for dark chocolates that have at least 70 percent cocoa as it packs loads of nutritious antioxidants that aren’t just good for your health but can also help reduce stress levels. Dark chocolates have more antioxidants and flavonoids than any other chocolate, including milk or white chocolate.
Since high stress makes us crave for sweets, eating chocolate can be beneficial. You don’t need to eat plenty of it, a small amount (eaten mindfully) would be more than enough to relieve stress.
Make Calming Hot Chocolate at Your Home to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
The best thing about chocolate is that you can make it at your home and that too without adding any unhealthy ingredients. Most packaged chocolates have added sugars that may cause insulin spikes, but with homemade chocolate, you don’t have to worry about all this. Furthermore, drinking a cup of calming hot chocolate won’t just reduce your stress but also help you relax before you go to bed.
This calming drink contains healthy fats that can help stabilize your blood sugar, hence keeping insomnia and anxiety at bay. In addition to providing several health benefits, the cocoa in dark chocolate contains a good amount of magnesium that can make you feel good and induce relaxation. Many people lack this vital mineral in their bodies, and what else could be the best way to get their magnesium deficiency replenished?
Plus, the added spices such as nutmeg, cardamom, and cinnamon have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce anxiety and stress while giving your taste buds a lot of flavor.
Here are the ingredients you need to make calming hot chocolate to relieve stress:
- One tablespoon cacao
- One teaspoon coconut oil
- 1 cup almond milk (or whatever type of milk you prefer)
- One teaspoon cinnamon
- One tablespoon collagen
- Pinch of nutmeg
- One teaspoon ghee (or whatever kind of butter you’d like)
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- One teaspoon vanilla extract
Preparing a cup of chocolate is a piece of cake as the only ingredient of the recipe that requires heating is almond milk. You should pour almond milk in a pot, heat until boiling, and then add rest of the ingredients in the pot as well. Stir in all of them well, pour the hot chocolate in a mug, and enjoy!
Other Health Benefits of Chocolate
Dark chocolate gets its bittersweet taste from the flavonoids that are full of antioxidants – these flavonoids help:
- Provide a variety of cardiovascular benefits.
- Lower blood pressure
- Increase good cholesterol
- Decrease oxidation of bad cholesterol
Dark chocolate increases healthy blood flow by making one’s blood vessels more elastic, hence lengthening the time it takes blood to clot.
Although chocolate is beneficial for health and can help relieve stress in the most delicious way, one should still practice moderation with chocolate consumption because as they say “excess of everything is bad”. The Clemson University Cooperation Extension suggests eating one-third and three-fourths of an ounce of dark chocolate.
Also, one should not replace any medicine that he/she uses for diabetes and hypertension, with dark chocolate. Plus, no matter how many health benefits dark chocolate has, it can still contain many calories, sugar, and saturated fat that may be unhealthy for you, especially if you are on a balanced diet.
Chocolate, without any doubt, is tasty and contains a lot of health benefits, but as said earlier, the moderately you use it, the better. If you are feeling stressed, you can grab a bar of chocolate and eat an appropriate amount (recommended above) of it to feel relaxed and calm. In addition to dark chocolate, there are several comfort foods that you can eat to ease stress if you don’t just want to rely on chocolate. Eat Healthy, Stay Healthy!
(Link article “Comfort Foods Can Help Ease Stress” where highlighted)