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It’s an after-dinner treat that many people enjoy indulging in, and now a new study has revealed a link between dark chocolate and mood.
Researchers from UCL have revealed that eating dark chocolate can actually help to relieve depressive symptoms.
In the study, the team looked at data from 13,626 adults, including their chocolate consumption, depressive symptoms, and a range of other factors including their height, physical activity and any other chronic health problems.
The analysis of the data revealed that participants who reported eating dark chocolate in two 24-hour periods had 70% lower odds of reporting depressive symptoms than those who didn’t eat chocolate at all.
Dr Sarah Jackson, who led the study, said: “This study provides some evidence that consumption of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, may be associated with reduced odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms.
“However further research is required to clarify the direction of causation – 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.
“Should a causal relationship demonstrating a protective effect of chocolate consumption on depressive symptoms be established, the biological mechanism needs to be understood to determine the type and amount of chocolate consumption for optimal depression prevention and management.”
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Several previous studies have shown chocolate to have mood-enhancing properties, although the reason for this remains unclear.
Chocolate contains number of psychoactive ingredients that produce a feeling of euphoria, similar to the effects of cannabis.
It also contains phenylethylamine, a chemical which is believed to be important for regulating people’s moods.
However, other studies have shown that chocolate only boosts your mood when it is pleasant to eat, indicating that the experience of enjoying chocolate is also an important factor.
In particular, dark chocolate has a higher concentration of flavonoids - antioxidant chemicals with a range of anti-inflammatory effects.
Flavonoids have also been shown to play a role in delaying the onset of depression.
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