I was rummaging through my Google Alerts earlier trying to come up with a post idea that I could somehow tie in with the holidays – I’m usually better at this kind of brainstorming but I have a heavy cold at the moment and thinking is a bit like making my way through a thick fog, so I’m taking any help I can get!

Lucky for me, and you, I came across an interesting article on WebMD about chocolate, specifically dark chocolate, and its effects on stress levels.  The news is good!

According a study done in of all places Switzerland,  eating dark chocolate may reduce levels of stress hormones in people who are already stressed out.

With the holiday season upon us and a surplus of both stress AND chocolate, this is good news indeed.

Now, it remains to be seen whether this study will be proven anywhere other than Switzerland, which seems to be a pretty low-stress place to live in general — I actually have a good friend living there right now and he has been on Christmas vacation since the end of November, and isn’t going to head on back to work until the first week of January — but it’s potentially good news for the chocoholics among us.

The study measured the effects of eating 1.4oz (about the size of a regular Hershey Bar) of dark chocolate every day for two weeks.  Half of the chocolate was eaten mid-morning and half of the chocolate was eaten in the afternoon. The participants’ blood and urine were collected at the beginning and the end of the study to measure any changes in anxiety levels.

At the end of two weeks the researchers showed that those who had high stress levels at the beginning of the study, had lower levels of stress hormones after two weeks of eating dark chocolate.

Obviously, there could be many other factors involved in that reduction in stress levels and it is important to point out two things, (1) the study was only conducted on a small number of people, thirty in all, and (2) the study was commissioned by Nestle, yes, that’s right, the chocolate company!

Nevertheless, I’m taking comfort in the findings of this study and I fully intend to be eating healthy amounts of dark chocolate over the holiday season.  In fact, I’m thinking of a nice big bar of Green & Black’s 85% Dark as I write this! Mmmmm…

Now all I have to do is wait for this cold to clear up so that I can actually taste the chocolate!

Happy Holidays!