Friday, May 28, 2010

How Can Chocolate Be Linked to Depression?

Chocolate has always been known as a happy food. It puts smiles on faces, whether it is in bunny shapes for children or with exotic ingredients in truffles for adults. It is the go-to ingredient for milkshakes, cakes, cookies. The majority of the candy bars in the check-out line feature chocolate. How in the world can this tasty ingredient be detrimental to your mental health?

Just last month, reports came out rejoicing in the benefits of chocolate on the heart (in small doses) and in February research suggested thatchocolate can reduce the risk of strokes. Teams of researchers at two California universities are now tempering our enthusiasm by suggesting that chocolate does not improve moods, and that those who overindulge in cacao products may be more prone to depression. Maybe the word “overindulgence” is the key here.

The research group consisted of 931 individuals who were not using anti-depressants. They were administered a depression screening test and then monitored their chocolate consumption, as well as other dietary habits. Those participants who screened for possible depression consumed an average of 8.4 ounces of chocolate, while their non-depressed counterparts had only 5.4 ounces. A high of 11.8 ounces was observed in those who scored highest for major depression.

"Depressed mood was significantly related to higher chocolate consumption," Dr. Natalie Rose of the University of California, Davis, and University of California, San Diego, and colleagues wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Because the UC Davis and UC San Diego researchers were screening for general dietary intake, they could rule out caffeine, fats, and carbohydrates as possible factors in the depression.

Chocolate’s benefits on mood are thought to be short-lived, a momentary band-aid to a bigger problem. While chocolate may raise your mood initially, it quickly wears off. It does, however, have other benefits, not to mention it tastes really good. Just indulge in moderation.


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