Most of us do not need a whole lot of motivation or prodding to eat chocolate, whether it comes in the milk or dark variety. And now new research is giving you even one more reason to give in to your favorite chocolate temptation! A recent study indicates that the very make-up of chocolate may be able to reduce your stress levels. Now what’s not de-stressing about that? Let’s take a look at this decadent discovery…

Chocolate is, of course, loved (if not utterly adored) by people all over the world, and has been for the past couple of hundred years, since the cocoa bean was first discovered and distilled into a cup of hot chocolate. Since then, chocolate has captured our hearts, taking innumerable shapes, sizes, and applications, but rarely failing to please. Today, in fact, you’d be hard pressed to not find chocolate of some kind in most any food or beverage store. Some have claimed that many of us are addicted to the substance and that the amount of chocolate that American’s consume poses a considerable health risk.

But a slew of recent medical research studies beg to differ. They suggest that not only is chocolate much beloved in this country and around the world, it offers some significant health benefits. It has been cited as having positive effects on heart function, for example, the irony of which is not lost on those who have long identified St. Valentine’s Day as the day when everyone gets chocolate! These findings have largely pointed to the antioxidants in chocolate as being responsible for producing the positive health effects.

That said, one study found a new effect of eating dark chocolate. The clinical trial results of the study show that eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate – about one and one half ounces a day for two weeks – reduces the levels of stress hormones found in the body. The study looked at a group of people who self-rated their stress levels, and ranked those levels as being consistent with a highly stressed person. People in this study then ate chocolate for two weeks. The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, and compared the detailed cocoa antioxidant contents of chocolate that was commercially available.

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