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Dark chocolate 'may relieve depression'

Friday August 2nd, 2019

Eating dark chocolate may relieve depressive symptoms, according to the first study of its kind that examines the association with depression according to the type of chocolate consumed.

Led by a team at UCL, London, UK, the researchers worked with scientists from the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services Canada to assess data from 13,626 adults from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Participants’ chocolate consumption was assessed against their scores on the Patient Health Questionnaire, which assesses depressive symptoms.

The researchers found that those who reported eating any dark chocolate in two 24-hour periods had 70% less chance of reporting clinically relevant depressive symptoms than those who reported not eating any chocolate.

The 25% of chocolate consumers who ate the most chocolate of any kind were also less likely to report depressive symptoms than those who ate no chocolate.

However, there was no significant link between any non?dark chocolate consumption and clinically relevant depressive symptoms, according to the results, which are published in Depression and Anxiety.

Lead author Dr Sarah Jackson, of UCL’s Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care, said: “This study provides some evidence that consumption of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, may be associated with reduced odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms.”

She said further research is required to clarify causation because depression could cause 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,” she added.

Chocolate is widely reported to have mood?enhancing properties. It contains psychoactive ingredients that produce a feeling of euphoria. It also contains phenylethylamine, a neuromodulator that is believed to be important for regulating people’s moods.

Dark chocolate has a higher concentration of flavonoids, which have been shown to play a role in the onset of depression.

Jackson SE, Smith L, Firth J, et al. Is there a relationship between chocolate consumption and symptoms of depression? A cross?sectional survey of 13,626US adults. Depression and Anxiety 29 July 2019; doi: 10.1002/da.22950

Tags: Diet & Food | Mental Health | North America | UK News

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