Can chocolate help against anxiety?
Anxiety is a state of mind that we all go through from time to time. Regardless of the fact that we wait for a reply about a big job or we simply feel anxious about going to a party, the feeling is similar: nervousness and uneasiness which make our heart race and our palms sweat.
In acute phases, doctors may recommend medication, but in mild phases these feelings can go away with exercise and natural mood enhancers. According to studies, one of these mood enhancers is the delicious dessert we know as chocolate.
How can chocolate help?
As mentioned, the effects are not powerful, but, if you don’t usually have problems related to anxiety, a bar of chocolate might be of help.
Keep in mind: whenever we discuss chocolate and its health benefits, we are only referring to dark chocolate. The other types of chocolate (milk or white) have almost no nutritional value due to the low content of cocoa.
Bellow we listed some of the benefits of chocolate in the fight with anxiety:
- It stimulates the production of serotonin – serotonin is a neurotransmitter which regulates our mood and when the level is low we can experience anxiety. Dark chocolate is rich in an amino acid called tryptophan which helps stimulate the production of serotonin. This is why, when you eat a bar of chocolate when you’re down, you’ll feel better in no time.
- Mood enhancement – another element in dark chocolate is called theobromine. This one is actually toxic for dogs, but for humans it’s a mood reliever and booster.
- Magnesium – according to recent studies, magnesium is quite effective when it comes to anxiety and the associated states. Of course, you can always get a supplement, but the magnesium we find in food is a lot healthier. Dark chocolate is quite rich in this mineral and this is one of the reasons why it is believed to have a calming effect.
- Caffeine – chocolate contains small amounts of caffeine and while most people believe it will aggravate an anxious state, it is actually soothing. The trick is to consume it in small amounts.
How to use chocolate when you’re anxious?
First of all, you have to know that the effects won’t be immediate. All these ingredients need to be broken down by your digestive system and then transported through the bloodstream. So it usually takes a while to feel the effects. However, the taste is immediate and when we’re anxious it’s a bit more difficult to control our cravings.
So how can we make sure we use chocolate for the best? Well, the trick is to select only the finest dark chocolate, with the highest amount of cocoa. This type of chocolate is so rich in ingredients that you won’t be able to eat too much. After a few bites, you’ll feel full and the cravings will go away. With any other type of chocolate, the more you eat, the more you’re going to want to eat.