Studies: Dark chocolate lowers your stress levels, offers other benefits


If you're a dark chocolate lover, your day is about to get a little sweeter.

That's because two new studies presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 annual meeting this week in San Diego have shown that certain types of dark chocolate offer health benefits – specifically, positive effects for your stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory and immunity.

This applies to dark chocolate with a high cacao concentration – minimally 70 percent cacao and 30 percent organic cane sugar. For the study, researchers used chocolate from Redlands, California-based Parliament Chocolate, which lists the cacao and sugar concentrations on the front of the bar, according to principal study investigator Lee S. Berk. The studies examined how chocolate consumption affects certain gene expression and how it affects electrical brain activity when consuming chocolate over shorter and longer periods of time. For the latter study, researchers were looking to figure out if they "needed to increase or decrease the amount of dark chocolate consumed" depending on how long the responses lasted.

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Researchers say their work is unprecedented.

"This is the first time that we have looked at the impact of large amounts of cacao in doses as small as a regular-sized chocolate bar in humans over short or long periods of time, and are encouraged by the findings," Berk said in a statement. He's also a researcher in psychoneuroimmunology and food science from California-based Loma Linda University.

"These studies show us that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity and other beneficial effects," he said.

Cacao contains flavonoids, a type of plant pigment, which are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that can help both brain and cardiovascular health.

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These studies are underscored by other research done on the health effects of chocolate. Chocolate has been a centuries-long suggested remedy for everything from syphilis to cancer to prenatal stress and more. While dark chocolate has its health benefits, people still have to be wary of portion size to limit the fat, sugar and calories that come along with it.
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