Science Says This Is The Best Type Of Chocolate To Eat When You're Stressed

You officially have permission to crack open the choc.


Everyone has their go-to response when their stress levels are off the charts. Some virtuous people like to sweat it out with a gym session or decompress with some yoga or meditation. Others (cough, me) default to ordering greasy takeaway and watching something mindless on Netflix. Then, there are the people who swear by chocolate to make it all better. If you fit into that last category, we’ve got some good news for you—you’re on the right track. Chocolate has actually been scientifically proven to make you calmer and happier, by regulating neural pathways and encouraging your brain to produce serotonin dopamine. That said, not all chocolate is created equal when it comes to fighting stress.
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A new study published in Science Daily shows that dark chocolate is the best type of chocolate to eat when you’re stressed. I know right: cue eye roll.
‘Nowaaaay—the more sugary and decadent the chocolate, the better I’m going to feel,’ you may think. But here’s the thing—the research has revealed that contrary to previous belief, that isn’t the case.
The study, which was presented at the Experimental Biology 2018  meeting a few weeks ago, was the first time researchers have looked into 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.

“We have looked at the influence of dark chocolate on neurological functions from the standpoint of sugar content,” says principal researcher Lee S. Berk of the School of Allied Health Professions and Loma Linda University. “[However] 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.”
That is, it’s not the high amount of sugar in chocolate that’s giving us those good vibes, it’s the cacao itself. The research showed that the chocolate you eat must have a cacao percentage of at least 70% in order for the benefits to come through. In the first study, cacao consumption at this percentage was found to “[up-regulate] multiple intracellular signaling pathways involved in T-cell activation, cellular immune response, and genes involved in neural signalling sensory perception.” Meanwhile, the second study revealed that 70 percent cacao “enhances neuroplasticity for behavioural and brain benefits”
Those benefits go beyond just helping you feel less stressed. The flavonoids in cacao have been found to do everything from improving your memory and mood to having an anti-inflammatory effect on the body that helps prevent cancer and neurodegenerative and cardiovascular disease. So there you have it— you officially have permission to chow down on some delicious dark chocolate for the sake of your physical and mental health!

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