Eat Chocolate and Calm Your Stress Response

What’s the connection of chocolate with calm?

If you’re cooped up at home and craving chocolate, this might be the time to give in. Evidence supports eating dark chocolate for stress relief, so consider adding it to your self-care plan!

Researchers in Switzerland and Germany discovered that people with high anxiety who ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate every day for two weeks reduced their levels of stress hormones and had fewer markers of disease-causing bacteria in their gut. This work came from the Nestle Research Center, which obviously wants to promote chocolate since they make it, but information from other sources also suggests eating a small amount of dark chocolate every day is good for your health.

There is a connection of chocolate with calm


Dark chocolate helps ease emotional stress.

Dark Chocolate Health Benefits

Eating chocolate prompts the production of serotonin, a calming, “feel-good” neurotransmitter. Adding dark chocolate to the diets of people with chronic fatigue syndrome for two weeks reduced symptoms, while consuming a similar tasting and appearing placebo without cocoa solids did not have the same effect. Eating high-cocoa chocolate increases blood flow in the brain, which improves alertness and thinking ability. It also seems to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke or heart disease.

How Much to Eat?

To get a health benefit from chocolate, most research studied eating 45 grams or 1 1/2 ounces of dark chocolate every day. Aim for dark chocolate bars with 70-85 percent cocoa, for it is the cocoa that contains compounds called flavonoids that impart sought-after health benefits. Milk chocolate has lower amounts of flavonoids, and has not been found to promote health to the same degree.

Is dark chocolate good for you?


Enjoy dark chocolate for stress relief.

You can include chocolate in your breakfast, add it to nuts and dried fruits as a mid-morning or afternoon snack, or savor it after dinner with a cup of caffeine-free coffee, herbal tea, or glass of wine. During the years when I traveled over half the time for business, I made it a rule not to head for the airport without a bar of dark chocolate in my briefcase. That chocolate calmed and soothed me during many airport delays and kept me from going berserk when the plane sat for hours on the tarmac waiting to take off. As fears from the global COVID-19 pandemic disrupted my schedule and added concerns for the health of my loved ones, I made sure to keep a good stock on dark chocolate in my pantry:

Reduce stress with dark chocolate


During the COVId-19 pandemic I kept a variety of dark chocolates in my pantry and enjoyed them all.

Include Dark Chocolate in a Healthy Breakfast

I enjoy oatmeal made with milk, walnuts, and dark chocolate. That’s just one of the flavors of oatmeal I mix up in wide-mouthed glass jars and place in my refrigerator. In the morning, after two minutes in the microwave I have a delicious warm breakfast. Here’s what I put in my dark chocolate oatmeal:

1/4 cup steel cut organic oats
1 Tablespoon walnuts
1 ounce dark chocolate
3/4 cup whole milk

Dark Chocolate Nutrition Facts

While nutrition facts will vary slightly depending on the brand, the 1 1/2 ounces daily intake cited in many studies will contain about 250 calories, 21-25 grams fat, 15-18 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams protein, and 5 to 6 grams dietary fiber. The fiber in dark chocolate acts as a prebiotic and supports the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Dark chocolate without added sea salt contain little sodium, and in varieties containing 100 to 300 milligrams of potassium yields a desirable potassium to sodium ratio that may help reduce blood pressure. Chocolate is also a good source of magnesium, a mineral important for bone health, good sleep, and stable mood.

Reduce Stress with Dark Chocolate

Poet and artist Sandra Boynton once wrote

The greatest tragedies were written by the Greeks and Shakespeare…neither knew chocolate.

While tragedy and stress is an unavoidable part of life, we each get to choose how we respond. Relieve your stress and prevent burnout—that sense of exhaustion and overload caused by unrelenting stress—by finding small things to enjoy each day, such as chocolate with your breakfast, snack, or evening routines. Make chocolate a pleasant, calming, and restorative part of your day.

If you’d like to find areas of your life that might benefit from stress relief, take my quick quiz to identify habits that put you at risk for overwhelm and burnout: http://deborahrankinrd.com/?elementor_library=quiz-form-pop-up

Evidence About Dark Chocolate For Stress Relief

Effects of dark chocolate consumption on energy, gut microbiota, and stress-related metabolism in free-living subjects.https://doi.org/10.1021/pr900607v

The effects of nutrients on mood. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1368980099000555

High cocoa polyphenol rich chocolate may reduce the burden of the symptoms in chronic fatigue syndrome. https://rdcu.be/b3rX3

What Will You Do?

Pick a step you’ll take to add dark chocolate to your daily routine. Then, please help me by sharing this post using one of the buttons below. 

© 2020 Deborah Rankin R.D.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Article Name
Eat Chocolate and Calm Your Stress Reponse
Dark chocolate has many health benefits including reducing stress and anxiety. This article tells what kind of dark chocolate is best for health, how much to eat, and shares a recipe and eating tips.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

More from the Blog

Dark Chocolate Health Benefits

Dark chocolate health benefits are profound, but some people resist the somewhat bitter taste. I propose–chocolate for breakfast! Watch this video and learn how to make dark chocolate oatmeal for breakfast in less than a minute. Click here for three more recipes for oatmeal, each of which can be made in less than a minute:

A nature affirmation to reduce stress

A Nature Affirmation to Reduce Stress

Studies show that a walk in the forest helps your body reduce stress more than a walk on a busy city street. Even looking at videos or pictures of forests helps lower stress! High levels of stress, and the corresponding high blood levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, probably contribute to belly fat in

This shows a piece of art by Wasily Kandinsky

Four Ways You Boost Your Health When You Start to Paint

You may think taking time to paint is a luxury, when in fact there are four ways you boost your health when you start to paint. Arts Effect Research studies about art and health reach the overarching conclusion that creative arts contribute to the healing process. https://dx.doi.org/10.2105%2FAJPH.2008.156497 Art provides a refuge from intense emotions, and

This is a picture of a man making a list in his journal.

Journaling for Weight Loss

I know people who are brave enough to take on a strict diet, restrict their calories, or eliminate big food groups when they want to lose weight. Yet they resist journaling for weight loss. That seems too easy. And how can it help? You might be as surprised as this puppy. Journaling Definition Most research


Are you at risk for burnout?

Take this quick quiz to discover habits that may be leading you to burnout.

We respect your privacy. Your email will never be sold or given to a third party.