Do you have more to-do lists than there are hours in a day? Your email inbox is already full and your phone won't stop working? Do you feel overstimulated, have a stomach ache and feel a tightness in your throat? Stress feels something like this. We all have it - professionally or privately - and we all know that it is unhealthy in the long term. Sufficient recovery periods and a more relaxed view of everyday life usually help - and chocolate can also reduce stress. Yes, you heard that right! We explain why this is the case and which chocolate works best.
What happens to the body when there is stress
From an evolutionary perspective, stress is designed to put us on alert. Something is wrong, we are overwhelmed, danger lurks. Nowadays it's usually more like a long to-do list than an attack by a wild animal, but the mechanism remains the same. Various hormones such as cortisol are released in order to release as much energy as possible in one go. The consequences: Blood pressure rises, the blood is enriched with more oxygen, the pulse becomes faster and the muscles tense.
In dangerous or exceptional situations, this mechanism is extremely important, sometimes even essential for survival. However, if stress becomes a permanent condition, there is a risk of health damage: tension, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and depression.
You see: It is very important to develop your own personal anti-stress strategies so that you don't put your health at risk even in hectic phases. You can now find out what role sugar and chocolate play in stress management.
The desire for sweets
It's no wonder that we often feel a craving for sweets in stressful situations! When the stress hormone cortisol is released more, the brain requires more energy in the form of glucose. So you can say that increased cortisol levels due to stress often make you crave sugar. If you eat something sweet, the sugar it contains quickly lowers the cortisol level. High cortisol levels are very unhealthy in the long term. By lowering the level, sugar initially protects against consequential damage - but apart from that, it is of course not exactly healthy. So that's no excuse to eat large mountains of sweets when you're stressed 😉 . But we also have good news: chocolate can actually relieve stress without containing a lot of sugar.
Chocolate against stress: from flavonoids and fake chocolate
First of all: Of course, chocolate also usually contains sugar. On the one hand, it inhibits the stress hormone cortisol - yay - and on the other hand, in large quantities it is of course not exactly beneficial to health. But chocolate has a lot more to offer when it comes to stress management. What's interesting is that dark chocolate - and therefore lower in sugar - performs particularly well. The reason for this are many great substances in cocoa.
Dark chocolate, for example, activates the release of various hormones such as dopamine and endorphins. These inhibit stress hormones and at the same time have a stimulating, mood-enhancing effect. It also contains a number of antioxidants that are usually found primarily in fruits and vegetables.
The flavonoids contained in chocolate are particularly exciting. In 2014, a team of researchers from the Universities of Bern and Zurich and the University Hospital of Bern examined the extent to which flavonoids inhibit stress hormones. One experimental group was given 72% chocolate, while a comparison group was given a mixture that looked and tasted like chocolate, but did not contain any flavonoids. Then all participants were exposed to very stressful situations. Values in the blood were then compared. The result: The group that ate real chocolate containing flavonoids had significantly fewer stress hormones. The researchers conclude that the flavonoids inhibit stress hormones such as cortisol in the adrenal gland area. In a stressful situation, cortisol levels do not rise significantly.
We conclude: Chocolate has a mood-enhancing effect and - thanks to flavonoids - can inhibit the release of stress hormones. But which chocolate is most recommended?
Which chocolate is the best for stress?
Mood-enhancing and stress-reducing substances such as the researched flavonoids can be found in cocoa. In other words: the higher the cocoa content, the better the anti-stress effect. Dark chocolate or our 'Cool Beans' not only work best against stress, but also contain little sugar and fewer calories. That's not enough for you? Then how about 100% chocolate? Take a look at our online shop .
Theyo Cool Beans: Fair, sustainably produced and 100% made by women #justsayin
Of course, chocolate does not replace periods of recovery and is by no means a sole stress management strategy. However, in moderation and with as high a cocoa content as possible, it can certainly provide relief in stressful situations. It lowers cortisol levels and promotes the release of happiness hormones. And it tastes good! No, for real. The feel-good aspect should not be underestimated either. Take a few minutes and consciously enjoy a piece of chocolate. Not only are happiness hormones released, but you automatically allow yourself a moment of peace and distance from stress. Give it a try!
By the way, you can find really high-quality chocolate in our online shop . Every bit of it is guaranteed to be a dream...
Pssst: chocolate has even more to it! You can find out how it can help you lose weight here . And here you can read why theobromine could soon be in toothpaste .
Wirtz, PH, Von Känel, R., Meister, RE, Arpagaus, A., Treichler, S., Kuebler, U., . . . Ehlert, U. (2014). Dark Chocolate Intake Buffers Stress Reactivity in Humans . Journal of the American College of Cardiology , 63 (21), 2297–2299. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2014.02.580
Frobeen, A. (July 3, 2018). How the brain and hormones control the stress response (2/4). Retrieved on August 26, 2019 from https://www.tk.de/techniker/magazin/life-balance/stress-bewaeltigen/gehirn-hormone-stress-2006900