At first Dr Shock was baffled. Mixing precious chocolate with chemicals? What a waste. Apparently cocoa has about 52 mg of GABA per 100 gram cacao. GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain and it has been shown to have an acute psychological stress-reducing effect in humans and a tranquilizing effect on sleeplessness, depression and autonomic disorder observed during the menopausal or presenile period. Because cacao is mixed with milk, sugar and some other ingredients the quantity if GABA in chocolate is less than in cacao, possibly reducing the stress reducing effects in human.
In a recent study, they enriched chocolate with GABA and did a placebo controlled crossover trial to the effect of GABA enriched chocolate on psychological stress. Stress was induced by a arithmetic task and they measured heart rate variability and cortisol concentration in saliva to measure psychological stress.
Chocolate enriched with GABA (GABA chocolate) was composed of 38.5% sugar, 7.8% defatted cacao, 29.8% fat, and 0.28% GABA.
The cortisol, one of our stress hormones didn’t increase after the task in the GABA sessions and those taking the GABA chocolate made a quick recovery in heart rate variability to the normal state from the stressful state. GABA doesn’t permeate the blood-brain barrier, so it’s positive effects on stress in this trial as well as in others has to be explained by it’s effects on the peripheral nervous system.
Based on this study chocolate enriched with GABA had a psychological stress-reducing effect, but does it still taste the same? May be chocolate with Jack Daniels is a better option
Nakamura, H., Takishima, T., Kometani, T., & Yokogoshi, H. (2009). Psychological stress-reducing effect of chocolate enriched with γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in humans: assessment of stress using heart rate variability and salivary chromogranin A International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 60 (s5), 106-113 DOI: 10.1080/09637480802558508