Monday, February 15, 2010

Does Chocolate Decrease or Increase Stress?

Another health claim for chocolate has appeared in the mass media.  This one reported briefly on a study that showed eating 1.4oz of dark chocolate a day for two weeks changed the brain's biochemistry, reducing stress levels.  This was earlier reported on a medical website, too, with more details.  This website had even more details.  With Valentine's Day passed, I wanted to turn to other considerations of chocolate this week with a review of "healthy chocolate" this approaching Saturday Sacrament.

A few points about this study.

First, the participants were healthy adults but only 30 of them.  By healthy they seem to mean body mass index of 18-25.  However, BMI is only one measure of health and I have  concern about calling people with "high levels of stress" also a requirement for the subjects "healthy".

Second, the subjects of this study all had "high levels of stress" but what that means is unspecified.  Was it self-reported?  Were objective tests used?  What types of stress are we talking about, what was causing it?

Third, the dosage was controlled, these people weren't chowing down on large amounts of chocolate.

Finally, one of the most annoying parts of this media stream of reports, the cocoa content is not reported.  Is this so-called dark chocolate with 50% or 60% or 70% or 80%?  It is actually quite important otherwise how do you know what to buy.  The "dark" category of chocolate is pretty wide in terms of cocoa content.  Was it pure chocolate or did it have additives?

Mass media reports of this nature fuel the frenzy about chocolate and cocoa as a healthy food.  I don't doubt that our Sacred Substance can be health as well as healthier, Sisters and Brothers.  But I dislike misleading reports and the resulting business push to try and generate greater sales.  Chocolate shouldn't need health claims to sell it.  I mean, just follow the Path and you will experience great pleasures with little risk every day.

Please, please, please, do not play doctor with yourself and your loved ones.  Consult before consuming in large quantities and do your research.  Otherwise, use cocoa in moderation and with a purpose and just enjoy what the Divine and Human ingenuity have created.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

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