A study conducted by researchers at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust (UK) has indicated that eating small amounts of chocolate every day can help to reduce the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
People who took part in the study earlier this year reported feeling significantly less fatigue after eating 45g of specially formulated dark chocolate each day for eight weeks.
They also reported feeling more fatigue when they stopped eating the dark chocolate and were receiving a placebo instead.
CFS has long been a condition which has challenged the NHS as its causes are still not fully understood. Diagnosing the condition is difficult as many of the symptoms are similar to other illnesses and, since there is currently no known cure, treatment concentrates mainly on managing symptoms.
Chocolate contains a complex mixture of polyphenols especially flavonoids which have been reported to reduce the risk of death from coronary heart disease, cancer and stroke. Chocolate itself is known to increase neurotransmitters like serotonin which researchers believe may help CFS patients as this neurotransmitter is associated with regulating mood and sleep.
The formulated chocolate in this study contained 85% cocoa solids and was rich in polyphenol flavonoids.
Professor Steve Atkin, who conducted the study is a Consultant Endocrinologist at the Trust. He said: “No one has examined the effects of chocolate on CFS before and so this is a very exciting and interesting result for us. The participants in this study were taking 45g of specially formulated chocolate for eight weeks then having a two-week period of rest before then taking a simulated dark chocolate, low in polyphenols, for another eight weeks. In the test period they reported feeling less fatigue and once they moved on to the placebo chocolate they began feeling more fatigue again. Interestingly they didn’t experience any significant weight gain either, which is an extra positive.
“We now hope to look at some of the other potential benefits of chocolate which is high in these natural chemicals. We have two studies that we are currently recruiting, one in type 2 diabetes and the other in polycystic ovarian syndrome.” From a press release of the Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust