Dark Chocolate: The New Antianxiety Drug?

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OK, so it may
not be kosher for me to report on a chocolate study that was conducted
by an employee of a chocolate maker at the chocolate maker’s
own research lab. Get over it. The results of this new study are
intriguing and shed more light on the biochemical basis behind dark
chocolate’s health benefits.

The team of
researchers was led by Sunil Kochhar, PhD, who heads the BioAnalytical
Science Department at the Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland.
He and his colleagues designed the study to see whether eating dark
chocolate every day for two weeks could affect the way the body
metabolizes stress hormones.

They recruited
30 healthy young people – 11 men and 19 women. They tested their
anxiety levels and determined that 13 of them tested as “high
anxiety” and 17 tested as “low anxiety” on standardized
anxiety tests. They gave the volunteers 40 grams of dark chocolate
(about an ounce and a half), containing 74% cocoa, every day for
two weeks and tested their blood and urine at the beginning and
end of the trial.

In the high
anxiety group, eating chocolate reduced levels of their stress hormones,
and the changes were “biologically significant,” Dr. Kochhar
tells me. What’s more, people felt less anxious after munching
on chocolate. The findings did not apply to the low anxiety group.
“We observed improvement in the anxiety states of subjects
immediately after their consumption of chocolate,” he says.

Read
the rest of the article

November
21, 2009

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