Chocolate has been for years a weakness of mine. I used to prefer milk but every now and then dark chocolate would really satisfy a craving I had. Of course in the past few years, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that dark chocolate can actually be good for you, at least in moderation. If it weren’t for the extra sugar, most chocolate would be fine to consume. On the other hand most people agree – pure cacao, as it’s often called, tastes way to bitter to be considered any kind of a treat. But find a good balance of 70% – 90% dark chocolate and indulge. According to this research paper published last december, 40 grams a day is enough to positively affect several metabolic functions in the body, including stress managing hormones like cortisol, euphoria producing neurotransmitters like dopamine and even gut microbial enzymes (keeps you nice and regular).
People that are especially anxious might find an additional benefit to chocolate. The study remarked about below used volunteers who filled out psychological exams that suggested they have high anxiety traits. In any event 40 grams of chocolate today works out to an average of 200 calories. Split into two servings and you’re bound to be able to make it fit into a sensible diet where the sweet tooth needs taming. Enjoy.
J Proteome Res.2009 Dec;8(12):5568-79.
Metabolic effects of dark chocolate consumption on energy, gut microbiota, and stress-related metabolism in free-living subjects.
Nestle Research Center, Vers-chez-les-Blanc, CH-1000 Lausanne 26, Switzerland.
Dietary preferences influence basal human metabolism and gut microbiome activity that in turn may have long-term health consequences. The present study reports the metabolic responses of free living subjects to a daily consumption of 40 g of dark chocolate for up to 14 days. A clinical trial was performed on a population of 30 human subjects, who were classified in low and high anxiety traits using validated psychological questionnaires. Biological fluids (urine and blood plasma) were collected during 3 test days at the beginning, midtime and at the end of a 2 week study. NMR and MS-based metabonomics were employed to study global changes in metabolism due to the chocolate consumption. Human subjects with higher anxiety trait showed a distinct metabolic profile indicative of a different energy homeostasis (lactate, citrate, succinate, trans-aconitate, urea, proline), hormonal metabolism (adrenaline, DOPA, 3-methoxy-tyrosine) and gut microbial activity (methylamines, p-cresol sulfate, hippurate). Dark chocolate reduced the urinary excretion of the stress hormone cortisol and catecholamines and partially normalized stress-related differences in energy metabolism (glycine, citrate, trans-aconitate, proline, beta-alanine) and gut microbial activities (hippurate and p-cresol sulfate). The study provides strong evidence that a daily consumption of 40 g of dark chocolate during a period of 2 weeks is sufficient to modify the metabolism of free living and healthy human subjects, as per variation of both host and gut microbial metabolism.
PMID: 19810704 [PubMed - in process]