A person battling depression by eating chocolate is a rather common scene that we so often come across both in fictitious settings and even in real life. True enough, cocoa, a common component in chocolates do hold some amount of vitamins and chemicals that somehow fight depression.
The recent issues that arose over the ability of chocolate to combat such condition were due to the fact that milk chocolates, chocolate candy products, and processed cocoa are replacing the traditional cocoa-laden sweets. These newer varieties contain too much amounts of sugar and fats which actually is a complete opposite of the benefits of those that are made from pure ground cocoa.
Despite their lack of facilities to figure out the properties that coco possess, its use actually dates back to the first few years of AD where Aztecs would drink it mixed with water and spices. They believed that it gave them sexual prowess, euphoria, and a general well-being.
This belief of the Aztecs was not exactly false. Cocoa contains the stimulants caffeine and theobromine. It also has tryptophan, a mood elevator, which helps improve blood pressure as well as flavonoid which is an antioxidant that protects cells from damage. The carbohydrates found in pure chocolate increase neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and phenylethylamine. All of these are very helpful in elevating the mood and battling depression. Aside from this, it also contains MAOIs which prolong the effects of neurotransmitters as well as endorphins which are also known as the body’s “happy hormones”.
Cocoa also contains a string of vitamins that promote the overall wellbeing of the body. It contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, and B11 which help in the absorption of nutrients from food along with the strengthening of the body’s defenses; vitamin D for good bones and teeth; and vitamin E for muscle building and red blood cell production. Note that all of these are from those chocolates that are made from pure cocoa. Otherwise known as dark chocolates, they should contain at least 80% of cocoa.
Chocolate and Depression
A study in the University of California at San Diego have found that there is actually a link that with depression and chocolate consumption. In fact, they have found out that the amount of chocolate consumption is related to the level of depression of a person.
The research was made up of 931 participants who were not taking any antidepressants. About 30 percent of them were women and the rest were men. Each of them was asked to complete a depression screening survey where they were also asked on the approximate amount of chocolate they consumed along.
The results – those who showed signs of being possibly depressed consumed an average of 8.4 ounces of chocolate every month. This is a big difference to those who scored low in the survey as they only claim to consumed 5.4 ounces. Those who indicated to possibly have major depression ate an average of 11.8 servings per month.
From the study, the researches were able to come up with quite a number of hypotheses. The most important one is that chocolate does boost mood. As evidenced by the numbers, those who are suffering from depression are consuming them as a stimulant to elevate their moods. The ability of chocolates to boost the production of serotonins is one of the reasons why so many people consume them when they are feeling low.
There is a need for further studies with regards to the relationship of depression and the intake of chocolates. It should be explored how chocolate affects mood and, if its intake does directly influence depression.
Amy C. is a health and nutrition enthusiast. She enjoys discovering new information and studies that have a direct effect on an individual’s health and well-being. During her spare time, she helps DMac Industries, a b deck and steel deck fabrication company, with office administration and blogging activities. Stay tuned for her next post to learn more about Amy’s health adventures.