Researchers find fewer depressive symptoms in dark-chocolate eaters


People who eat dark chocolate may feel less depressed compared to those who don’t indulge in the treat, a new study suggests.

Those who ate dark chocolate were less likely to report depressive symptoms, according to researchers from University College London, in collaboration with the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services Canada.

Out of 13,000 people they surveyed, about 7.6% overall said they felt depressive symptoms, while only 1.5% of chocolate-eaters in that group reported feeling those symptoms.

The study, published in journal Depression and Anxiety, also found that people who consumed between 104 and 454 grams of (dark chocolate) per day were 57% less likely to have depressive symptoms than those who abstained from chocolate.

“These results provide some evidence that consumption of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, may be associated with reduced odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms,” the authors said in the study’s abstract.

According to the research, there was no such link between depressive symptoms and eating milk or white chocolate.

The teams had set out to find any link between chocolate and people’s moods.

They examined data from thousands of participants in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and Patient Health Questionnaire. 

Researchers looked at people’s chocolate-eating habits, depressive symptoms and chronic health problems.

People were asked to recall what they’d eaten over two 24-hour periods between three and 10 days apart. 

People who reported eating any dark chocolate were 70% less likely to say they had depressive symptoms compared to those who didn’t.

Lead author Dr. Sarah Jackson, from University College London’s Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, told The Irish Examiner more research needs to be done to determine how chocolate and mood are connected.

“Further research is required to clarify the direction of causation,” she said. “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.”

Compared to regular chocolate, dark chocolate has a higher concentration of flavonoids, antioxidant chemicals known to have a role in slowing down the onset of depression.

Other researchers have found that chocolate contains the neuromodulator phenylethylamine which has an impact on regulating mood.