A patient suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) told her physician she had been feeling much better since switching from milk chocolate to dark chocolate. Her physician thought it would be interesting to conduct a small study with 10 of his patients to determine if other individuals also experienced the same benefits. What was the outcome? The results indeed seem to indicate that eating dark chocolate regularly has a beneficial effect on symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
During the small pilot study, which lasted five months, the volunteers suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome had to eat 45g of chocolate every day. For a period of two months, they ate either white chocolate dyed brown to resemble dark chocolate, or dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. The third month was entirely chocolate-free, and in the last two months of the trial, they ate 45g of the other type of chocolate every day.
The results of the study were really surprising! Two of the volunteers who had been on sick leave for six months actually went back to work! Professor, endocrinologist, and study leader Steve Atkin of Hull York Medical School, in the United Kingdom, was surprised at the strength of the results. He believes the high levels of polyphenols contained in dark chocolate have a positive effect on serotonin, a neurotransmitter located in the brain. Serotonin is thought to play an important role in the regulation of anger, aggression, body temperature, mood, sleep, vomiting and appetite.
However, because this was a small pilot study with only 10 volunteers, it limits a generalization of the results. Still, as professor Atkin says: there is no harm in eating 45g of dark chocolate every day…so long as you limit yourself to 45g! Needless to say the benefits of dark chocolate dissipate when it is consumed in large quantities, as this will only result in increasing your waistline! Unfortunately, the chocolate formulation used in the study is not currently available on the market. However, nutrition experts recommend choosing a dark chocolate with a very high cocoa content, such as 70% to 85%. Cocoa is known be rich in antioxidant properties, which are really fantastic for our health.
So, does dark chocolate really have a positive effect on those suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome? Larger studies are definitely needed to confirm or refute these latest findings. However, one thing is certain: indulging in small pleasures helps us relax. Relaxing while having a few bites of yummy dark chocolate… there certainly is no harm in that! This is great news for chocolaholics everywhere! So go ahead and enjoy a little bit of dark chocolate. But remember, just a little bit!