Day #20: Chocolate For Stress Management


Can we all agree that dark chocolate is amazing in so many ways?

I want to talk about dark chocolate for stress management because it is a great source for polyphenols, which can induce nitric oxide that helps relax the blood vessels and is cardio protective. So the next time you eat chocolate, make sure that it is dark chocolate.

Lastly, if you are sensitive to caffeine, don't have it at night or a lot of it. 


The following are some of my geek thoughts on chocolate, estrogen, and the female monthly cycle...

For the female readers and their supporters, did you know that estrogen is also a vasodilator (when the blood vessel relaxes and opens up more)?  There is research demonstrating an association of PMS and women craving more carbohydrates and chocolate. I know during the end of my cycle and the beginning, I start to crave more chocolate and feel better after eating dark chocolate.   Does this happen to you too?  Maybe due to the dip in estrogen, eating extra polyphenols, such as the ones in dark chocolate, can compensate part of what estrogen does to help with blood vessel relaxation?  

As you know relaxed blood vessels improves blood flow and reduce blood pressure.  Meaning, polyphenols in chocolate can bring more oxygen and nutrition, while removing waste and carbon dioxide through the circulation system by inducing NO. Let's say you are nutrient deficient or have certain genetics that requires more nutrients in something, having less blood flow 'might' make your deficiencies more apparent.   I want to make clear this part is my speculation, so take this information as an hypothesis and feel free to see for yourself on what works and doesn't for you while working with the appropriate health practitioners.  I have noticed that upping my dark chocolate intakes (oops, meant to say polyphenol intake) and certain adaptogens (Plants with lots of polyphenols) at the end of my cycle helps with my PMS symptoms.  Does it help you too?   

If you have more questions, I offer private sessions in San Francisco and online. For a free consultation, please email me.   In May, I plan to offer an integrative group programming (movement, meditation, and holistic nutrition).  Click here for more information. 


Magrone, T., Russo, M. A., & Jirillo, E. (2017). Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Polyphenols: From Biology to Clinical Applications. Frontiers in Immunology8, 677.

Ginter, E., Simko, V. (2012). Plant polyphenols in prevention of heart disease. Bratislava Medical Journal, 113(8):476-80.

Mendelsohn, M.E., Karas, R.H. (1994). Estrogen and the blood vessel wall.Current Opinion in Cardiology,Sep;9(5):619-26.

Tarhouni, KGuihot, A.LVessieres, EProcaccio, VGrimaud, LAbraham, PLenfant, FArnal, J.FFavre, JLoufrani, LHenrion, D. (May 2016). Estrogens are needed for the improvement in endothelium-mediated dilation induced by a chronic increase in blood flow in rat mesenteric arteries. Vascular Pharmacology, 80:35-42. doi: 10.1016/j.vph.2015.10.004. Epub 2015 Oct 22.