- The most recent addition to chocolate’s body of research comes from University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom.
- Over the years, other scientists have also turned to dietary interventions to reduce depressive symptoms, with some success.
- They also analyzed dark chocolate and nondark chocolate separately.
Over the years, chocolate has been the focus of a great deal of research.
Thanks to its flavor and texture, chocolate is a popular food. As a result, a large number of people tend to read and share any studies that investigate its potential health benefits.
Overall, its high sugar and fat content make chocolate a snack for people to enjoy in moderation, but consumers and experts are keen to find hidden depths to this silky wonder.
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The most recent addition to chocolate’s body of research comes from University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom. The UCL team worked in conjunction with scientists from the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services Canada.
The title of the UCL press release is, “People who eat dark chocolate less likely to be depressed,” which is a bold header, indeed.
Before we continue, it is worth explaining that, as far as we can tell, this study did not receive funding from any chocolate manufacturers. The scientists published their results in the journal Depression & Anxiety.
Why study chocolate and depression?
Globally, depression is a sizable issue. Currently, talking therapies and medication are the most common treatments. As the authors explain, talking therapies are often oversubscribed, so doctors prescribe most people antidepressants.
However, these medications do not work for everyone. Also, according to the authors of the current study, about half of the people who receive a prescription for these drugs stop taking them within 6 weeks of beginning treatment.
Finding lifestyle interventions that can improve depressive symptoms is a priority. Physical activity appears to benefit some people with depression, but it does not help everyone, and not everyone is physically able to exercise.
Over the years, other scientists have also turned to dietary interventions to reduce depressive symptoms, with some success. Along these lines, the authors of the latest study explain that “One commonly consumed foodstuff postulated to have mood‐enhancing properties is chocolate.”
However, over the years, there have only been a few studies looking at whether chocolate truly can elevate mood in a clinically relevant way, and these experiments have produced mixed results.
A more thorough approach
According to the authors, earlier studies did not account for a wide enough range of variables, and none looked at how the type of chocolate might influence the findings.
So, in their new study, the scientists controlled for a large number of potentially confounding variables, including weight, height, marital status, education, ethnicity, income, levels of education, smoking, and other health conditions.
They also analyzed dark chocolate and nondark chocolate separately.
The scientists took data from the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. After excluding individuals who were underweight or had diabetes, they had 13,626 participants aged 20 years or older.