Life is Like a Box of Metabonomics?

The stresses of merely existing are way too easy to come by these days, but there's good news from the biochemical community, and now, in this most chocolaty of seasons, it's the perfect time to share it. The news is this: There's now documented, empirical evidence that eating a little dark chocolate every day has stress-busting benefits and other favorable, long-term health effects.

By "little," we're talking a mere 1.4 ounces, but, then again, that's roughly the equivalent of eight and a half Hershey's Kisses -- and that's daily consumption.

The researchers who discovered this dulcet data and disclosed it in a recent issue of the American Chemical Society's Journal of Proteome Research acknowledged that there has for some time now been growing proof that antioxidants and other ameliorative essences in dark chocolate may reduce risk factors for heart disease, emotional stress, and other conditions, but until they performed their controlled study, the "how" of it was largely unknown.

Using language that probably only other biochemists could love, the researchers summarily recounted the methods and their delectable findings as follows:

"A clinical trial was performed on a population of 30 human subjects, who were classified in low and high anxiety traits using validated psychological questionnaires. Biological fluids (urine and blood plasma) were collected during 3 test days at the beginning, midtime and at the end of a 2 week study. NMR and MS-based metabonomics were employed to study global changes in metabolism due to the chocolate consumption. Human subjects with higher anxiety trait showed a distinct metabolic profile indicative of a different energy homeostasis (lactate, citrate, succinate, transaconitate, urea, praline), hormonal metabolism (adrenaline, DOPA, 3-methoxy-tyrosine) and gut microbial activity (methylamines, p-cresol sulfate, hippurate). 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, praline, B-alanine) and gut microbial activities (hippurate and p-cresol sulfate)."

So, see? Isn't that good news? The upshot of it all, in plain, romantic English, is that it took only two weeks of daily consuming those 1.4 ounces (40 grams) of dark chocolate before the subjects experienced "sufficient" improvements to their metabolism and stress levels. So do yourself -- and your Valentine -- a favor this season by sticking to the lusciously bittersweet stuff. Your gut microbial activities will thank you.

Posted by Ronnie Rittenberry on Feb 12, 2010