People who eat dark chocolate are less likely to be depressed, finds a University College London-led study. Published in Depression and Anxiety, the study is the first to look at the association with depression based on the type of chocolate eaten.
Researchers from University College London worked with scientists from the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services Canada and examined data from 13,626 adults from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants’ chocolate consumption was assessed against their scores on the Patient Health Questionnaire, which assesses symptoms of depression. Participants were adjusted for a number of other factors.
The findings: “This study provides some evidence that consumption of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, may be associated with reduced odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms,” said lead author Dr. Sarah Jackson of UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care, in a statement.
“However further research is required to clarify the direction of causation,” Jackson added. “It could be the case that depression causes people to lose their interest in eating chocolate, or there could be other factors that make people both less likely to eat dark chocolate and to be depressed.”
Score another point for dark chocolate, which already has a lot going for it, as does chocolate in general. Chocolate is generally known to have mood-enhancing properties, with psychoactive ingredients that trigger euphoria like that of cannabinoid, found in cannabis. It also contains phenylethylamine, a neuromodulator that is thought to be important for mood regulation.
Dark chocolate in particular has a higher concentration of flavonoids, which are antioxidant chemicals which have been shown to improve inflammatory profiles, which play a role in the onset of depression.
Dark chocolate is also rich in serotonin, the neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.