Dark chocolate is not only beloved for its taste, but for its many health benefits as well. The bittersweet treat can help you reduce stress, improve iron levels, and even supercharge weight loss when part of a healthy diet. Well, recent research has revealed even more potential benefits. Turns out, dark chocolate might be helpful for boosting your mood in a major way.
An August 2019 study, published in the scientific journal of Depression and Anxiety, found that eating dark chocolate may positively affect mood and relieve depressive symptoms. Researchers examined data from 13,626 adults from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They measured participants' consumption of different types of chocolate along with their scores on a questionnaire that assessed depressive symptoms.
Results showed that people who reported eating any dark chocolate in two 24-hour periods had 70 percent lower odds of reporting depressive symptoms than the folks who didn't eat chocolate at all. When it came to non-dark chocolate (like milk and white chocolate), researchers weren't able to find any significant link between consuming them and depressive symptoms. However, it's also worth mentioning that the 25 percent of chocolate consumers who ate the most of any chocolate (dark or otherwise) were less likely to report depressive symptoms than the people who refused chocolate altogether.
"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 Sarah Jackson, PhD, in a press release. "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."
Additional research is also needed to determine whether there's a specific kind of dark chocolate or specific amount of chocolate that would be optimal for enhancing mood and possibly helping with depression. But in the meantime, the primary research sure sounds promising, especially if you love chocolate as much as we do!