The Nerve of It:  Chocolate  

“Soothing” has a new meaning with chocolate.

A recent Australian study has found dark chocolate may increase calmness, even contentedness, through the polyphenols found in cocoa.3

Polyphenols are found naturally in plants and are a basic component of the human diet.  These compounds reduce oxidative stress, known to cause or contribute to many chronic diseases.  Oxidative stress on the body is easy to understand, and is clearly demonstrated when we see a fresh slice of apple turn brown after a few minutes in the open air.  Polyphenols are reduce the effects of many conditions, and may also have beneficial psychological effects, apart from the simply physical.

“This clinical trial is perhaps the first to scientifically demonstrate the positive effects of cocoa polyphenols on mood.”

The research was based on a 30 day randomized study involving 72 men and women, aged 40-65 years, who had no chronic illnesses.

The participants each received a dark chocolate drink mix, standardized to contain either 500mg of cocoa polyphenols, 250mg of cocoa polyphenols or none.

Three groups were in the study, participants in each having received a cocoa drink mix with a high dose, medium dose, or no polyphenols in their chocolate drink.

The drink mixes were given to participants in identical packaging so the investigators and participants were unaware of which treatment each participant was receiving. Participants drank their assigned drink once a day for 30 days.

After 30 days, those given the high dose concentration of cocoa polyphenols reported greater calmness and contentedness than those who drank either of the other drink mixes.

Charles T. Knowles is a writer and filmmaker living in North Carolina.  He has designed and produced public presentations by a Presidential Candidate, Politicians, Journalists, Authors, Musicians, and fellow Filmmakers.