There is hardly anyone who can say no to chocolate; they are a definite mood lifter. But now you may have another reason to enjoy a bar of chocolate as a new study, published in Depression and Anxiety, is the first to examine the association between depression and type of chocolate consumed.
Researchers from the University College of London (UCL) assessed data from 13,626 adults from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the study. A range of other factors including height, weight, marital status, ethnicity, education, household income, physical activity, smoking and chronic health problems were also taken into account to ensure the study only measured chocolate’s effect on depressive symptoms.
In the University statement, lead author Dr Sarah Jackson (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care) said, “This study provides some evidence that consumption of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, may be associated with reduced odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms”.
The study said that chocolate is widely reported to have mood enhancing properties and several mechanisms for a relationship between chocolate and mood have been proposed. Principally, chocolate contains a number of psychoactive ingredients which produce a feeling of euphoria similar to that of cannabinoid, found in cannabis. It also contains phenylethylamine, a neuromodulator which is believed to be important for regulating people’s moods.
“Experimental evidence also suggests that mood improvements only take place if the chocolate is palatable and pleasant to eat, which suggests that the experience of enjoying chocolate is an important factor, not just the ingredients present. While the above is true of all types of chocolate, dark chocolate has a higher concentration of flavonoids, antioxidant chemicals which have been shown to improve inflammatory profiles, which have been shown to play a role in the onset of depression”, the report read.
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 300 million people are affected by depression, which is also the leading global cause of disability.