Dark chocolate may reduce stress levels and improve mood: study

It's no secret that chocolate can offer comfort in times of stress, but new research indicates its benefits extend beyond making someone feel better. The study looked at dark chocolate specifically and found that consuming certain types of it, assuming it has enough cacao, can have a positive effect on the consumer's stress levels. The benefits continue from there, though, also impacting memory, immunity, and more.

The information comes from researchers with Loma Linda University. Principal investigator Lee S. Berk talked about the study, saying, "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..."

The results are notable and point toward multiple benefits from the flavonoids/antioxidants found in cacao. Assuming chocolate that is at least 70% cacao is consumed, the observed health benefits include a reduction in stress levels, improved mood and memory, reduced inflammation, and boosted immunity.

The researchers looked at effects 30 minutes after 48 grams of dark chocolate was consumed, as well as after 120 minutes; they found that:

...cacao consumption up-regulates multiple intracellular signaling pathways involved in T-cell activation, cellular immune response and genes involved in neural signaling and sensory perception – the latter potentially associated with the phenomena of brain hyperplasticity.

SOURCE: Loma Linda University