A new study in the journal “Depression and Anxiety” tells that different types of chocolates may affect mood. It has shown that eating dark chocolate may help to improve a person’s mood. And it can lead to a reduction in the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Chocolates can decrease the symptoms of depression and anxiety
According to WHO, depression affects over 300 million people globally. Also, it is the first leading cause of disability and the fourth major cause of disease burden.
In this study, the research team has assessed the data of 13,626 adults in the U.S. These adults had an age of ≥20 years. The team has evaluated two 24-hr dietary recalls to check the daily use of the chocolate in these adults.
A trained person took the first 24-hr recall. While the team asked for the second recall between 3 – 10 days after the first 24-hr dietary recall. The adults gave the second recall via telephone. The study has calculated the daily intake of chocolate (dark or any other kind) in grams, using an average of these two 24-hr dietary recalls.
The team has assessed the symptoms of depression using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ). That asks about the frequency of depressive symptoms in the last 2 weeks.
Score ≥10 in PHQ shows that the symptoms are present.
The study has also included some other factors and then has adjusted them. These include weight, height, income, education, smoking status, and chronic health problems.
There was a 70% reduction in the risk of depression in people eating dark chocolates in two 24-hr periods. And the study has also found a 25% reduction in depression in persons who ate any type of chocolates (dark, non-dark) than those not eating them at all.
Mood-enhancing properties of chocolate may prevent or reduce depression
These results suggest that eating chocolate may positively affect a person’s mood. Where eating dark chocolate can markedly improve mood, the other types may also play a role in boosting mood to a degree. But still, there is a need for more research to explain this process.
Chocolate is widely known to have mood-enhancing effects. And the past studies have put forward several processes to explain the link between eating chocolates and mood.
Primarily, chocolate has more than 300 naturally occurring chemicals. A few of these may affect the brain by releasing neurotransmitters. Chocolate has many psychoactive components. These produce a feeling of joy and happiness.
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The chocolates also have phenylethylamine. That is important to regulate a person’s mood. It increases the pulse rate and makes one happy. The results of the study show that these changes in the mood occur only if the chocolate is tasty and is pleasant to eat.
It shows that not only the components of chocolate but also enjoying the chocolate is an important factor. These facts are true for all kinds of chocolates. But the dark chocolate also contains a higher quantity of flavonoids.
These are antioxidants known to reduce inflammation, which has a role in depression onset.
All these results confirm that the intake of chocolates, specifically dark chocolate, may affect mood and reduce the risk of depression. Still, one should keep in mind that excess of everything is bad. Eating too many chocolates can be harmful. It can also lead to tooth decay and weight gain.