Dark chocolate has received a lot of positive press of late — and why not? It’s an antioxidant-rich food that has been implicated in the prevention of all sorts of conditions. Eat dark chocolate and you could protect your brain as you age, the experts tell us. Dark chocolate could help prevent high blood pressure. It could also reduce inflammation, research claims.
Dark chocolate contains a special kind of flavanoid called “procyanidin.” This flavonoid counteracts the damage caused by inflammation and oxidation. Procyanidins also boost the circulation of blood, and along with this blood come oxygen and nutrients for optimum health.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? What could be better than eating chocolate for good health? It tastes good. It stimulates endorphin production, which gives a feeling of pleasure. And, chocolate contains theobromine, caffeine and other substances that are stimulants.
Well, here’s one cautionary note to consider the next time you bite into that chocolate bar: for some people, chocolate may aggravate feelings of depression.
Researchers in the U.S. decided to examine the relationship of chocolate consumption with depressed mood in adult men and women. They recruited 1,018 adults (694 men and 324 women) from San Diego, California. Of those, 931 subjects were not using antidepressant medications. These participants provided chocolate consumption information, which the research team analyzed.
The research team found that those who screened positive for possible depression had higher chocolate consumption (8.4 servings per month) than those not screening positive (5.4 servings per month). Participants with still higher depression scores had — you guessed it — had still higher chocolate consumption (11.8 servings per month). The researchers noted that these associations extended to both men and women. They also stated that the findings did not appear to be explained by a general increase in fat, carbohydrate, or energy intake.
Despite all the potential health benefits of eating chocolate, be aware that if you have trouble with feelings of depression, chocolate may not be the best choice for you. Other foods high in antioxidants, such as blueberries, raisins, or walnuts, can offer many of the same health benefits of dark chocolate, without the mood-altering side effect.