Thursday, November 26, 2009

Eat chocolate for healthy lifestyle


AUSTRALIAN scientists have confirmed what chocoholics have been praying is true - their favourite comfort food can reduce stress.

Food rich in fat and sugar can alter chemical composition in the brain to reduce anxiety, professor Margaret Morris said.

In a study of rats, Professor Morris, from the University of NSW's School of Medical Sciences, found effects of past trauma could be erased by "unlimited access to yummy food".

"Implementing that diet reversed anxiety ... it took an animal back to the non-stressed state," Professor Morris said.

"We really don't know why, but there seems to be a biochemical link."

Using two groups of baby rats, one with normal contact with mothers, the other with lengthy separations and higher stress hormones, scientists found they became less stressed with comfort foods.

"The control group had no effect from the diet really, but the stressed animals had a deficit ... which was restored by the diet."

"(The) food seems to affect neurogenesis similar to the way anti-depressants promote nerve growth in the brain."
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A recent Italian survey conducted by the Catholic University in Campobasso, found that 6.7 grams of dark chocolate per day (about a half a bar per week) was the ideal amount for a protective effect against inflammation and subsequent cardiovascular disease.

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