Life is Like a Box of Chocolates




Chocolate pieces on plate

Through the course of modern human history, chocolate has been considered the most special of all confections. Chocolate inspires deep love and devotion from those who partake of it, and its ability to enhance one’s mood has been advertised by men, women and children — and candy manufacturers — everywhere. Now, new evidence may put all that positive information under wraps; a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine reports that individuals who eat more chocolate are at a greater risk of depression.

The new study examined a cross-section of approximately 1000 adults (about one-third were women) and examined their intake of chocolate. None of them had diabetes or coronary artery disease. More than 900 of the subjects were not using antidepressants. The participants completed a questionnaire to assess symptoms of depression, and they reported the number of chocolate servings they ate per week. Researchers compared the depression scale scores to chocolate consumption.

Overall, participants with scores indicating positive possible depression consumed significantly more chocolate than those not scoring positive (8.4 servings per month vs. 5.4 servings per month). Participants with higher depression scale scores, indicating probable major depression, consumed still more chocolate (11.8 servings per month).  There was no difference between men and women, and the results were not related to a general intake of fat, calories or carbohydrate intake, the authors stated. They were unable to determine if there was a causal connection between chocolate and depression, and, if so, in what direction.

Possibly, chocolate does have mood benefits and chocolate cravings are the body’s way of self-treating depression. Many studies have supported the idea that chocolate enhances mood; negative mood is often immediately improved after consuming chocolate, though the effect is generally short-lived. This immediate mood benefit likely contributes to the habit of eating to cope with stress. Chocolate consumption is also associated with increased guilt in many studies, primarily in so-called emotional eaters.

In addition to mood benefits, claims that chocolate improves cardiovascular health and has positive nutritive properties abound. The cardiovascular protective effects of chocolate are believed to come from the polyphenols that come from cocoa. Additionally, dark chocolate is believed to have positive effects on the action of insulin, as well as protect human skin from damage caused by UV rays.

Chocolate is a long way away from being considered a health food or prescribed as a treatment for chronic diseases. However, its sociocultural allure is unchanging. The new study, though, does inspire questions on emotion-regulated eating versus eating to regulate emotion. But, no matter the cause and effect of chocolate’s relationship with depression, consumption of the quintessential confection is not likely to change anytime soon.

References

Chang AS, Yeong BY, & Koh WP (2010). Symposium on Plant Polyphenols: Nutrition, Health and Innovations, June 2009. Nutrition reviews, 68 (4), 246-52 PMID: 20416020

Egan BM, Laken MA, Donovan JL, & Woolson RF (2010). Controversies in Hypertension: Does Dark Chocolate Have a Role in the Prevention and Management of Hypertension? Commentary on the Evidence. Hypertension PMID: 20404213

Macht M, & Dettmer D (2006). Everyday mood and emotions after eating a chocolate bar or an apple. Appetite, 46 (3), 332-6 PMID: 16546294

Macht M, & Mueller J (2007). Interactive effects of emotional and restrained eating on responses to chocolate and affect. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 195 (12), 1024-6 PMID: 18091197

Macht M, & Mueller J (2007). Immediate effects of chocolate on experimentally induced mood states. Appetite, 49 (3), 667-74 PMID: 17597253

Macht M, Roth S, & Ellgring H (2002). Chocolate eating in healthy men during experimentally induced sadness and joy. Appetite, 39 (2), 147-58 PMID: 12354683

Rose N, Koperski S, & Golomb BA (2010). Mood food: chocolate and depressive symptoms in a cross-sectional analysis. Archives of internal medicine, 170 (8), 699-703 PMID: 20421555

Strandberg TE, Strandberg AY, Pitkälä K, Salomaa VV, Tilvis RS, & Miettinen TA (2008). Chocolate, well-being and health among elderly men. European journal of clinical nutrition, 62 (2), 247-53 PMID: 17327862

Williams S, Tamburic S, & Lally C (2009). Eating chocolate can significantly protect the skin from UV light. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 8 (3), 169-73 PMID: 19735513

  • http://www.myfitchocolate.com Terri

    I can’t agree with this study whatsoever. I don’t know what kind of chocolate this study was using, but it must have been the most chemically laden, highly processed crap they could find. I struggled with depression for 10 years, five of which I was put on a variety of anti-depressant drugs. Four years ago I began consuming a HEALTHY RAW dark chocolate and was able to leave the drugs behind for good. Remember to read and examine studies carefully. They can always be manipulated to achieve the outcome the testers are looking for.

    • Anonymous

      yes i totally agree that chocolates might be dangerous.but not all choclates r so………………………

    • http://theilluminatedbrain.com Anders Kassem

      Are you suggesting that chocolate eliminated your depression? Seems highly unlikely.

    • azucena

      I agreed .
      I had the opportunity to meet the best chocolatiers from Peru.
      Dark chocolates prepeared with the most exotic flavors,and organic.Some contain maca.
      Whith all this energies from the center of the Sun how can sombody refuse it

      Check there web”guanni chocolates”Also Mariella Balbi on facebook

  • jessah gomez

    there is truth in this study and there is also not acceptable to this study. it depends really on the person’s body chemistry and its conditions.

  • barbara

    im a chocoholic…i agree! thanks for the blog..

  • http://freebesthealth.com/ Pradip Gharpure

    Highly interesting study. There may be divergent views and differences of opinion, but study indicates that we need to be selective in eating chocolates and its quantity.Better to judge the individual experience and decide about this matter.

  • Laurie Higgins

    All I can say is, who did they find that only consumed 11.4 servings per month? I may very well consume that much in ONE DAY! I love my dark chocolate and don’t even think about taking it away from me! :D

Jennifer Gibson, PharmD

Jennifer Gibson, PharmD, is a practicing clinical pharmacist and medical writer/editor with experience in researching and preparing scientific publications, developing public relations materials, creating educational resources and presentations, and editing technical manuscripts. She is the owner of Excalibur Scientific, LLC.
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