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Can Eating Chocolate Help Reduce Stress?

You may not need to feel so anxious about eating chocolate. A recent study found that just a couple weeks of snacking on dark chocolate may help decrease stress.

The study was conducted by scientists from the Nestle Research Center and published in the January 2010 issue of The Journal of Proteome Research.

The study included 30 healthy participants who were classified by low or high anxiety levels at the start of the study. The participants were then assigned to receive 40g of dark chocolate (about ¾ of a chocolate bar) containing 70% cocoa for 2 weeks.

By the end of the two weeks, the high anxiety participants saw reductions in the stress hormone cortisol and in levels of adrenaline. No significant change was found in the low anxiety participants.

The growing number of health benefits associated with chocolate is often attributed to naturally occurring antioxidants in chocolate called flavonols. Flavonols have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, increase blood flow to the brain and even improve skin health.

Chocolates with a higher percentage of cocoa, such as dark chocolate, tend to have better health benefits. It's important not to get too carried away though. If you eat more than 1-2 servings of chocolate a day the high saturated fat content can easily outweigh any antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

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