Oxidative Stress: A Chocolate a Day Keeps the Audiologist Away?

NZH | A chocolate a day keeps the audiologist away?

There may be some truth to this!

Our Ears and Foods with Anti-Inflammatory Effects

The delicate structures of our inner ear are incredibly sensitive to oxidative stress and the inflammation that results. Oxidative stress occurs when there’s an imbalance between free radicals (normal output of a cells metabolic process) and their neutralizing component, antioxidants. Over time, free radicals can build up (oxidative stress) and cause damage to tissue and cells, like those found in our inner ear, resulting in hearing loss symptoms.  Some foods are high in polyphenols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on cells in the body. Chocolate is one of them.

How Chocolate Could Help Prevent Hearing Loss

Researchers have studied the effects of chocolate consumption on hearing loss and the results are promising. Although more data is needed, preliminary results show consuming chocolate on a regular basis may reduce the odds of high-frequency hearing loss. 

How, you might ask? The inner ear of hearing, known as the cochlea, houses small cells that are easily damaged by inflammation from oxidative stress (too many free radicals). Oxidative stress builds in the cochlea over time. Meaning, as we age, we are likely to have more free radicals in the inner ear and higher oxidative stress. However, the antioxidant properties of polyphenols in chocolate can reduce oxidative stress inside the ear.

We are still collecting data so don’t go and consume all the chocolate just yet, but it may not hurt to have a little extra now and again! 



1. Lee SY, Jung G, Jang MJ, Suh MW, Lee JL, et al (2019). Association of Chocolate Consumption with Hearing Loss and Tinnitus in Middle-Aged People Based on the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2012-2013. Nutrients; 11, 746.

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