eating dark chocolate reduces depression

You know it makes you happy to eat chocolate. But, it’s more than just the luxurious treat. Want to know what that chocolate’s really doing to your brain?

In our book, Chocolate: Superfood of the Gods, we discuss two studies that suggest that eating chocolate elevates mood. But, they left two important questions unanswered. The first is whether chocolate is doing something medical or whether it just makes you feel better because it tastes good. The second is whether chocolate could not just make you feel better but actually fight depression.

The first study (Appetite 2007;49:667-74) found that compared to placebo, eating chocolate improves negative moods in the short term. But when they compared a tasty chocolate to an “unpalatable” chocolate, the tasty chocolate was more effective. So, was it the chocolate or just the taste?

The second study (J Psychopharmacol 2013;27:451-8) was a 30 day double-blind study that compared three drinks that all tasted exactly the same, taking out the taste factor. The first dark chocolate drink contained 500mg of cocoa polyphenols, the second contained only 250mg and the third had none. Like the first study, chocolate improved mood.  But, in this well controlled study, the high polyphenol chocolate improved calmness and contentedness significantly better than the low dose and the no dose chocolate, suggesting that it is the chocolate itself, and not just the taste, that is improving mood.

Now, a new study has broken the taste tie while looking at the more serious challenge of actual depression. This study is the first to look at the effect of chocolate on depression. The Canadian and American collaboration looked at 13,626 American adults. It looked at the relationship between eating chocolate and depression scores measured by the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9).

The study found that people who ate dark chocolate in the past 24 hours were a full 70% less likely to experience depression. And those who ate the most chocolate had the lowest rates of depression.

That starts to answer the depression question. But was it the taste or was it the chocolate? It was the chocolate. How do we know? Because when they ate milk chocolate, which also tastes delicious, but has fewer active chocolate ingredients like flavonoids, there was no significant antidepressant effect. That means it was the active components of the dark chocolate that were producing the antidepressant effect. The study found that the chocolate had to have 45% cocoa or more to be effective as an antidepressant.

Depression & Anxiety 2019;

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For way more on why dark chocolate is good for you, get your copy of Chocolate: Superfood of the Gods today.

The Natural Path is intended for educational purposes only and is in no way intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. For health problems, consult a qualified health practitioner for a comprehensive program.

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