GABA chocolate: a snack that fights with your stress?

Mental balance chocolate. “For your struggle in a stressful society.” Image derived from


Have you ever found yourself feeling the pressure of chasing deadline? Do you feel overwhelmed by the workload?

Let’s chill out and eat some chocolate! Not just chocolate, but GABA-enriched chocolate!


Chocolate for Mental balance?

In 2004, the confectionery company Glico launched GABA-enriched chocolate in Japan. They are selling two regular flavours, milk and dark chocolate. Recently, a limited edition, salt milk chocolate has come to the market!


It became a huge hit in Japan since then, and it sold US$40 million every year since 2007. The success of GABA-enriched chocolate may be related to the rise of food technology and functional food in Japan. This chocolate with additional ‘chemical’ is not only popular among women, it attracts male costumers too.


So, what is unique about GABA-enriched chocolate?

GABA-enriched chocolate contains 28 milligrams of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in 10 grams of chocolate.


GABA is a neurotransmitter naturally in the human brain. It plays a key role in reducing stress. It also has a tranquilizing effect on sleeplessness and depression. Cacao, the main ingredient of chocolate, has a large quantity of GABA. A study has shown that 100 grams of cacao contain 52 mg of GABA. But can chocolate help with reducing stress? Mind that chocolate is made from milk, sugar and some other ingredients in addition to cacao. The scientists from Glico revealed that the stress-reducing effect of GABA in chocolate may not always occur because there is less GABA in the product.


According to the interview with Dr. Takashi Takishima, he and his colleagues from Glico experimented with comparing the effect of GABA to the stress level on people. They recruited twelve people with acrophobia (fear of heights). Half of them were given with water containing 500 mg of GABA while plain water was provided to the rest. All of them were asked to walk across a 300-meter long bridge. People drinking water containing GABA showed a clear reduction in stress level.


In 2009, a group of researchers in Japan reported that GABA-enriched chocolate has psychological stress-reducing effect in humans. They have measured different factors to assess the impact of this chocolate on psychological stress in humans. In the experiment, they gave healthy volunteers 10 g GABA-enriched chocolate containing 28 mg GABA or placebo chocolate without GABA. These people were asked to do stressful tasks after eating chocolate. Interestingly, people had GABA-enriched chocolate have a quicker recovery in heart rate from a stressful state. They also showed no increase in stress hormones in the same group of people after completing stressful tasks.


Does GABA-enriched chocolate help with stress?

We need to know that ordinary doses of GABA cannot reach the brain through oral ingestion. It is likely that GABA acts on the nervous system found in our gut and decreases the blood pressure. But there isn’t enough evidence showing that GABA-enriched chocolate has the stress-relieving effect and more scientific studies are needed!


So, what do you think about this chocolate? Would you try it out when you stressed out?


This is the ad for GABA chocolate:



Nakamura H, Takishima T, Kometani T & Yokogoshi, H 2009, ‘Psychological stress-reducing effect of chocolate enriched with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in humans: assessment of stress using heart rate variability and salivary chromogranin A’, Int J Food Sci Nutr, vol. 60, pp. 106-113.

Renton, A 2007, I’ll have what she is having, viewed 15th September 2019, <>.




6 Responses to “GABA chocolate: a snack that fights with your stress?”

  1. Melody says:

    What is total calorie count for the bag?

  2. Xueting says:

    Fascinating topic. I know there are a variety of products claimed they could reduce stress, sugar ingestion or enhance even memory, but usually few scientific researches can support them. I feel like this is cheating on consumers to some extent. Do you think we should launch more regulations on the food industry in terms of exaggerating particular effect?

  3. Hongling LIU says:

    This interesting topic has successfully attracted me and I have learned more about chocolate. But I have a suggestion. One of the articles mentioned that Dr. Takashi did a test on patients with acrophobia. This paragraph explains to us the effect of GABA, which was mentioned in the previous paragraph. So I think that the introduction of the GABA chocolate in the previous paragraph is put into the next paragraph separately, and the introduction of the substance about GABA is combined with the beginning of the previous paragraph to form a separate paragraph, which will make the logic of the article clearer.

  4. John Tay says:

    Just when you think you’ve seen it all, Japan delivers another surprise.

    I think more research has to be done to actually conclude that ingested GABA has a real (non-placebo) effect.

    In the meantime, I might just try it myself!

  5. Olivia says:

    Yum! This sounds like a delicious option for SWOT VAC snacks. Do you know any other snacks that would be good for that stressful period?

  6. icrossing says:

    Chocolate that reduces stress sounds like a dream come true, considering how much chocolate I stress-eat during exams!