The surprising health benefit of eating dark chocolate every day

Chocolate is good for your mental health? 2020 is off to a good start.

Recently, an exhaustive cross-sectional study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety revealed that habitually consuming dark chocolate can dramatically reduce depressive symptoms in both chronic and provisional sufferers.

It’s easy to forget how recently matters of psychosis entered serious clinical consideration. A prolonged dark age comprised of pseudo-science and blunt instruments`means the receiving and administering ends had yet to secure very much ground before the latter end of the age of enlightenment.

Still, considerable strides have since been achieved in the form of diet and wellness practices, as evidenced by the report at hand. Coming full circle, “new age” consultation that accompanies pharmaceutical efforts mirror the salves proffered by the peoples of ancient Mesopotamia: namely culinary trinkets.

The authors of the new paper write: “To examine associations between chocolate consumption and depressive symptoms in a large, representative sample of US adults. Analyses stratified by the amount of chocolate consumption showed participants reporting chocolate consumption in the highest quartile had 57% lower odds of depressive symptoms than those who reported no chocolate consumption.”

A pioneering cross-sectional study on dark chocolate’s impact on mental wellness

The meta-analysis began with 13,626 adults who were involved in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted between 2007–08 and 2013–14. The extent of cognitive impact was tested on an array of different chocolate types (no chocolate, non‐dark chocolate, dark chocolate) by using multivariable logistic regression, which is a method of measuring associations by way of one nominal variable and two or more measurement variables.

The participants were all 20 years of age or older and had the severity of their depressive symptoms measured via a  Patient Health Questionnaire that observed a PHQ-9 scale. Recruited adults with diabetes were not included in the analysis and all outcomes were adjusted for sociodemographic factors, lifestyle habits, and dietary covariates.

After  initial assessment, each participant was tasked with logging their chocolate consumption at the end of each day.  At the end of the study period a thorough review of the dietary recalls determined that individuals who ate dark chocolate in a 24 hour window period were 70% less likely to report symptoms of depression.

These advantageous wellness boosts were even observable when participants imbibed as little as  12 grams of dark chocolate a day—with an average chocolate bar equaling just about 43 grams. Although the bio mechanisms aren’t super clear at the moment the researchers made a point to specify that consumers could likely replicate the findings indexed above with any bar of chocolate composed of at least 45% cocoa.

For whatever reason, milk chocolate did not appear to offer any discernible mitigating effects as far as depression symptoms were concerned.  

“Overall, 11.1% of the population reported any chocolate consumption, with 1.4% reporting dark chocolate consumption. Although non‐dark chocolate consumption was not significantly associated with clinically relevant depressive symptoms, significantly lower odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms were observed among those who reported consuming dark chocolate,” the authors conclude.”These results provide some evidence that consumption of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, may be associated with reduced odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms. Further research capturing long‐term chocolate consumption and using a longitudinal design are required to confirm these findings and clarify the direction of causation.”