Here’s the rundown: In this study1, 30 participants consumed 40 grams of dark chocolate for up to 14 days. Researchers tested blood and urine samples at the beginning, midpoint, and end of the study.
Interestingly, those in the study classified as “high anxiety” showed a distinct metabolic profile indicative of different energy homeostasis and gut microbiome. This makes sense, considering how much we know about the gut-brain connection.
The results? “Dark chocolate reduced the urinary excretion of the stress hormone cortisol and catecholamines and partially normalized stress-related differences in energy metabolism (glycine, citrate, trans-aconitate, proline, beta-alanine) and gut microbial activities (hippurate and p-cresol sulfate),” researchers note.
Translation: The study provides strong evidence that daily consumption of 40 grams of dark chocolate during a period of two weeks could help lower stress hormones and have beneficial effects on metabolism.
Plus, any foods that contribute to hormonal health and reduce cortisol levels can also have full-body and beauty benefits—as stress can lead to breakouts and a reduction in collagen production (read: more fine lines and wrinkles).
That’s the good news. The bad news: It’s not always easy to find chocolate without tons of added sugar. Keep your eye out for pure dark chocolate, organic cacao, and natural sweeteners like pure monk fruit extract. (Try these chocolate collagen powders for rich flavor and health benefits.)
If you’re craving something more decadent, you might even opt for a rich hot chocolate, sans added sugar—here’s a recipe to get you started.