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The Popular Could Be Dangerous- Can Chocolates Really Lift Your Mood?


The Popular Could Be Dangerous- Can Chocolates Really Lift Your Mood?


choco muffinHi guys, I hope you have been enjoying my food myth series so far. Its almost the end of the month and so far, I have successfully managed to bust the sugar-diabetes myth, end the butter-margarine war and clear the air between food allergies, intolerance and sensitivity.

However, this week, to tell you the truth, I’m not really happy about the myth that I’m going to demystify.  Because its about your and mine’s first love, chocolates.

The world is crazy about food, and chocolates top it all for most of us. Yes, maybe, because they are the perfect synonym for pleasure, which is why we have a secret wish for a Willy Wonka in our lives, don’t we?

Now, I don’t wish to sound pathetic and make you sad, but then there is some sort of bad news associated with your love.

Chocolates are sweet in nature and will remain that way till the day we die. However, those of you who delve into this pleasure for coming out of depression or to get rid of really sad thoughts, it may not work really well for you in the long run.

girl eating chocolate pastry

The Chocolate Bliss Is Short Lived

I am not a chocoholic but I can still feel the pang of my chocoholic pals who derive ultimate pleasure out of their choco fudge and sundaes, pies and truffles and how they are going to feel about this revelation.

Researchers have since years conducted many studies on the popular theories and claims of how chocolate can act as a stimulant, relaxant, aphrodisiac and an anti-depressant. The research that I have cited especially deals with the last claim.

Researchers from the Australia’s Black Dog Institute at the Prince Of Wales Hospital in Sydney arranged two groups of chocoholics with unique reasons for their cravings. The first group had their loyalty towards chocolates simply because they derived pleasure on its indulgence. The second group were motivated to eat chocolate with the intention to lift their mood and escape depression.

The first group of chocolate lovers experienced happiness, because of the effects of dopamine release,  a hormone that makes you feel happy.

eat-chocolateThe second group also felt their mood alleviate, however, not for long. Their happiness was short lived. The net result was a rebound effect of the original depression for those emotional eaters, in fact, even worse for some.[1]

Another study reveals that chocolate craving is associated with depression, anxiety and substance misuse which clearly means that it is not an ideal pick for alleviating depression. On the contrary, those who eat more and more chocolates are susceptible to anxiety and depressive behavior.[2][3]

If these findings haven’t convinced you yet, here’s another one. Bashing the antidepressant claim is yet another research that examined the mood modulations in chocolate addicts. 40 women, out of which 20 were self identified addicts and the remaining other 20 were controlled subjects.

Results revealed greater eating episodes among the chocolate addicts than the controlled subjects. Unfortunately, they also scored higher on depression and guilt after consumption. In fact, they also ranked higher on eating disorder as well.[4]

The study acknowledges that eating chocolate generally provides pleasure, but not if you use it as a tool to come out of depression. In the later case, the pleasure is short lived accompanied by feelings of guilt.

The Take Away Message

All the above studies give us the final message that chocolates are blissful if you are eating them for enjoyment and pleasure. They are meant to make moments more chocolaty and memorable, without a doubt.

choco-basketHowever, using it as a weapon to alleviate depression or find temporary escape from tough situations could only make you more miserable. They surely aren’t the answer to your problems. You would probably want to deal with your problems in a wiser manner because hogging on that basket full of chocolates could only contribute to the caloric load on your body. You don’t want that for yourself.

So, relish on your chocolate delicacies because of what they are meant for, to celebrate happiness and good times. Sweetness in life never hurts as far as it is for the good reasons!

Have a chocolaty day, toodles!


[1]Parker, G., Parker, I., & Brotchie, H. (2006). Mood state effects of chocolate Journal of Affective Disorders, 92 (2-3), 149-159 DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2006.02.007. ^Back to Top^

[2]Almada AL, & Silva M (2012). [Chocolate craving]. Acta medica portuguesa, 25 (6), 442-7 PMID: 23534597. ^Back to Top^

[3]Rose, N. (2010). Mood Food Archives of Internal Medicine, 170 (8) DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2010.78. ^Back to Top^

[4]Macdiarmid JI, & Hetherington MM (1995). Mood modulation by food: an exploration of affect and cravings in 'chocolate addicts'. The British journal of clinical psychology / the British Psychological Society, 34 ( Pt 1), 129-38 PMID: 7757035. ^Back to Top^

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