Dark Chocolate – a Delicious Stress Reliever
Dark chocolate – a delicious stress reliever? Yes!
I’ve been eating dark chocolate every afternoon for years. My husband’s been doing the same. We’d always loved chocolate – but only because it tasted great. Neither of us dreamed that chocolate could be good for us.
You may feel the same. Maybe you eat chocolate in any form simply because you love the taste. Once you bite into a chocolate bar, there’s no turning back. You may think you’ll eat just one-fourth or one-half, but at the end of the day, you just can’t stop until the wrapper sits there empty.
What makes chocolate so irresistible? What makes dark chocolate a delicious stress reliever?
Do you remember diving headfirst into the crushing stress of studying for a difficult exam? Can you remember how you suddenly wanted to eat a chocolate bar – or a cup of hot chocolate – or a bowl of chocolate ice cream? Your body craved chocolate. No. Your body demanded chocolate!
It turns out that your body was giving you good advice when it insisted that an over-stressed you go and get a chocolate bar. Your brain displayed its intelligence by making you aware that chocolate can be good for you.
Yes, chocolate can be good for you.
Maybe you’ve heard the opposite. Maybe you’ve heard that chocolate is bad for you. On the one hand, it can be bad for you if you eat the wrong kind and don’t use moderation.
On the other hand, dark chocolate can be a delicious stress reliever. The key is to be sure it’s dark chocolate if you want the best results. Milk chocolate can help relieve stress, but dark chocolate’s the best stress reliever.
We tried definitely-dark baking chocolate first. I’d call it edible, but barely edible.
Baking chocolate makes no claims to be great on its own. It contains either no, or very little, sweetening of any kind. I was eating pure chocolate, with no additives.
We wanted the rich, chocolaty smells and tastes of childhood – minus the calories.
Of course, we wanted sugar and fat, too – without the calories.
We wanted to feel the pleasing smoothness of a chocolate bar that you just don’t get from the baking chocolate. Look at the wrapper on a bar of milk chocolate and you’ll find figures like 20-25% fat and 40-50% sugar.
Dark chocolate might be a delicious stress reliever, but not if it had to be dark baking chocolate with no sugar or fat to entice the taste buds.
While we kept trying different chocolates, we did due diligence to make sure dark chocolate really could release stress. (Due diligence is an investigation you do to confirm the facts of something you’re considering.) Our due diligence turned up several interesting facts about chocolate.
Dark chocolate oozes interesting psychoactive chemicals in tiny, trace amounts. Your brain won’t get a chemical rush every time you eat a square or two of dark chocolate, but the chocolate can help senses reduce the feeling of stress.
What are these psychoactive chemicals?
One is anandamide. That one stimulates the brain to feel delight or joy. They say it can have the effect of cannabis in larger amounts, but don’t worry. You won’t be eating that much dark chocolate!
Two have names similar to amphetamine: phenylethylamine and tyramine. Amphetamines are stimulant drugs. They tend to make messages between your brain and body travel faster. Tiny traces of these two in chocolate give similar effects, without the dangers of abuse.
You may have heard of two others – at least one of them: caffeine. Caffeine and theobromine both stimulate our brains.
In other words, dark chocolate releases tiny amounts of stimulants into our bodies.
Look for dark chocolate that lists contents of 70% or greater cocoa solids. To increase your stress relief, choose the highest cocoa solid content your taste buds will accept. Higher percentages of cocoa solids will give you a more bitter taste, but your taste buds will adjust gradually, and you’ll soon find it as delicious as those with lower percentages of cocoa solids.
We’ve settled on Lindt dark chocolate, which became a favorite. Oh, the first few squares of smooth dark chocolate bordered on bitter, since we’d accustomed our taste buds to sweet milk chocolate, but the hint of cocoa and berry tastes won us over. We’ve certainly swallowed far more bitter pills, and gotten little stress relief from them, so we persevered.
It took few days to wean ourselves from super sweetness, and now we can enjoy 80% or even 90% cocoa solid content when our store runs out of Lindt’s 70%.
You may have read already that dark chocolate fights heart disease. You may have learned that dark chocolate can reduce the possibilities of developing certain cancers. Researchers tout dark chocolate as beneficial to the brain as well.
Dark chocolate as a delicious stress reliever, however, sounds too good to be true!
Dark chocolate reduces your levels of cortisol, a hormone produced when your stress levels get too high. Dark chocolate also dilutes your “fight-or-flight” hormones, catecholamines.
Why, you could begin to reduce stress right now if you had dark chocolate in your cupboard. You could get a break from those indefinable ways your body responds to all of the demands for change – and from the definable ways themselves.
Since dark chocolate is such a delicious stress reliever, why not believe your body’s cravings?
~ Please note that the author is not a licensed medical practitioner and accepts no liability for individual use of dark chocolate. Please seek a physician’s advice before beginning use of dark chocolate or any other substance for stress.