New research published in the journal Depression & Anxiety says that eating dark chocolate can lower the risk of depression. A cross-sectional survey of 13,626 adults found that after eating dark chocolate, people have less depressive symptoms. People who ate dark chocolate in the past 24 hours were 70% less likely to experience depression. Depression symptoms were measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ‐9) scores.
People who experienced less depression have a small amount of dark chocolate as low as 12 grams a day (an average-sized chocolate bar is 43 grams). Overall, 11.1% reported that they ate chocolate where only 1.4% reporting that eating dark chocolate. Dark chocolate was defined as chocolate with at least 45% cocoa in it.
Milk chocolate did not have the same effect. Eating non-dark chocolate like milk chocolate, which was both more popular and enjoyable, did not help in depression.
Craving chocolate is common in depression. One study found that nearly half (45%) of people with depression reported they are craving chocolate. Chocolate contains many natural chemicals like flavonols, caffeine, and theobromine that could help to boost one’s mood.
People who have healthier lifestyles might tend to choose dark chocolate and be at lower risk for lifestyle reasons, researchers controlled for factors like physical activity, smoking, alcohol, total sugar and caloric intake, age, sex, marital status, education, income, weight, and chronic medical problems etc.
People with health issues related to sugar, such as diabetes were not included in the study though. After controlling for these factors, dark chocolate remained involved with a lower risk.
However, the study further adds to the research suggesting the health and mood benefits of dark chocolate which can relieve some of the guilt from eating a little dark chocolate.