APR 28, 2018 10:15 AM PDT

Eating Dark Chocolate Reduces Stress, Improves Mood

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

We’ve heard that dark chocolate is good for us in reasonable amounts, but two unique studies from the Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center are now the first to study the beneficial effects of a specific compound that’s largely responsible for dark chocolate’s good reputation.

Research shows there might be health benefits to eating certain types of dark chocolate. Credit: LLU Health

Dark chocolate has a high concentration of cacao (usually 70 percent; 30 percent sugar), which is a rich source of flavonoids, a type of health-promoting compound called a phytochemical. Flavonoids and other phytochemicals have beneficial effects like reducing inflammation and oxidative stress and lowering the risk of chronic diseases.

The present studies examined the effect of flavonoids on cognitive, endocrine, and heart health in human subjects. Overall, they found that flavonoids from dark chocolate have a positive influence on stress, inflammation, mood, memory, and immunity.

Specifically, the first study looked at both immune and brain health in response to dark chocolate consumption. By analyzing the effect of dark chocolate on gene expression in human immune and dendritic cells, specifically pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, they found that eating dark chocolate stimulated increased expression of protective T cells, neural signaling, and sensory perception.

The second study focused completely on dark chocolate and brain health. Researchers measured the electroencephalography (EEG) response 30 minutes and two hours after consuming dark chocolate, looking at the effect on changing brain frequencies. They found that consuming dark chocolate “enhances neuroplasticity for behavioral and brain health benefits.”

Neuroplasticity describes the way neurons change in form and function in response to changes in their immediate environment. It is necessary for brain circuits to develop successfully, a process which is vital for determining humans as individuals, regulating the building of knowledge and skill, and repairing brain tissue after injury.

"For years, we have looked at the influence of dark chocolate on neurological functions from the standpoint of sugar content - the more sugar, the happier we are," explained principal investigator Lee S. Berk, DrPH. "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, and are encouraged by the findings.”

Sources: North Carolina Research Campus, International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 23, 2020
Cardiology
Protecting the Heart After a Heart Attack
JUL 23, 2020
Protecting the Heart After a Heart Attack
Cardiovascular disease accounts for thirty percent of mortalities around the world. These diseases start small and slowl ...
AUG 11, 2020
Cardiology
Investigating the Link Between a Kidney Protein and Hypertension
AUG 11, 2020
Investigating the Link Between a Kidney Protein and Hypertension
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common cardiovascular condition with plenty of treatment options and preventi ...
SEP 18, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Open Your Heart to the World's Smallest Diagnostic Probe
SEP 18, 2020
Open Your Heart to the World's Smallest Diagnostic Probe
Certain health conditions require doctors to be able to observe tissues and organs in order to tell what’s wrong. ...
SEP 22, 2020
Cardiology
Mosquito-Borne Illnesses are Linked to Stroke
SEP 22, 2020
Mosquito-Borne Illnesses are Linked to Stroke
Mosquitoes are major disease vectors; they are considered the world's deadliest animal because they kill so many people.
OCT 01, 2020
Cardiology
Investigating Inflammation in Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts
OCT 01, 2020
Investigating Inflammation in Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts
The heart is a vital part of the body that can last one hundred years, yet even a small change can cause massive consequ ...
OCT 18, 2020
Cardiology
Many Heart Disease Deaths Are Preventable With Diet Improvements
OCT 18, 2020
Many Heart Disease Deaths Are Preventable With Diet Improvements
New research has suggested that over two-thirds of heart disease cases around the world are preventable with improvement ...
Loading Comments...