Mood state effects of chocolate
J Affect Disord. 2006 Jun;92(2-3):149-59. Epub 2006 Mar 20., Parker G, Parker I, Brotchie H.
"If any man has drunk a little too deeply from the cup of physical pleasure; if he has spent too much time at his desk that should have been spent asleep; if his fine spirits have become temporarily dulled; if he finds the air too damp, the minutes too slow, and the atmosphere too heavy to withstand; if he is obsessed by a fixed idea which bars him from any freedom of thought: if he is any of these poor creatures, we say,
let him be given a good pint of amber-flavored chocolate....and marvels will be performed." — Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755–1826).
Chocolate consumption has long been associated with enjoyment and pleasure. Popular claims confer on chocolate the properties of being a stimulant, relaxant, euphoriant, aphrodisiac, tonic and antidepressant. The last claim stimulated this review. METHOD: We review chocolate's properties and the principal hypotheses addressing its claimed mood altering propensities. We distinguish between food craving and emotional eating, consider their psycho-physiological underpinnings, and examine the likely 'positioning' of any effect of chocolate to each concept.
RESULTS: Chocolate can provide its own hedonistic reward by satisfying cravings but, when consumed as a comfort eating or emotional eating strategy, is more likely to be associated with prolongation rather than cessation of a dysphoric mood. LIMITATIONS: This review focuses primarily on clarifying the possibility that, for some people, chocolate consumption may act as an antidepressant self-medication strategy and the processes by which this may occur. CONCLUSIONS: Any mood benefits of chocolate consumption are ephemeral.
Effects of intentionally enhanced chocolate on mood.
Radin D, Hayssen G, Walsh J.
Institute of Noetic Sciences, Petaluma, CA, USA. [email protected]
OBJECTIVE: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled experiment investigated whether chocolate exposed to "good intentions" would enhance mood more than unexposed chocolate. DESIGN: Individuals were assigned to one of four groups and asked to record their mood each day for a week by using the Profile of Mood States. For days three, four and five, each person consumed a half ounce of dark chocolate twice a day at prescribed times. Three groups blindly received chocolate that had been intentionally treated by three different techniques. The intention in each case was that people who ate the chocolate would experience an enhanced sense of energy, vigor, and well-being. The fourth group blindly received untreated chocolate as a placebo control. The hypothesis was that mood reported during the three days of eating chocolate would improve more in the intentional groups than in the control group. SUBJECTS: Stratified random sampling was used to distribute 62 participants among the four groups, matched for age, gender, and amount of chocolate consumed on average per week. Most participants lived in the same geographic region to reduce mood variations due to changes in weather, and the experiment was conducted during one week to reduce effects of current events on mood fluctuations. RESULTS: On the third day of eating chocolate, mood had improved significantly more in the intention conditions than in the control condition (P = .04). Analysis of a planned subset of individuals who habitually consumed less than the grand mean of 3.2 ounces of chocolate per week showed a stronger improvement in mood (P = .0001). Primary contributors to the mood changes were the factors of declining fatigue (P = .01) and increasing vigor (P = .002). All three intentional techniques contributed to the observed results. CONCLUSION: The mood-elevating properties of chocolate can be enhanced with intention.
Effects of theobromine, a caffeine-like substance found in cocoa and chocolate, on mood and vigilance
The FASEB Journal, 209:5, 2010, Daniel A Judelson, Amy E Griel, Debra Miller, Colleen X Muñoz, Mark D Kellogg and Harris R Lieberman
Like caffeine (CAF), theobromine (ThBr) is a methylxanthine found in foods such as cocoa and chocolate that might influence mood. ThBr crosses the blood-brain barrier and binds to adenosine receptors, suggesting it might share CAF’s beneficial effects on mood and vigilance. Therefore, we assessed the effect of ThBr doses commonly found in foods on mood and vigilance parameters sensitive to CAF. CAF was tested as a positive control. Twenty-four males (age = 23 ± 3 y) completed six double-blind trials during which they consumed experimental beverages, completed self-report mood questionnaires, and completed a two hour visual vigilance task. Three experimental beverages (100 mg, 200 mg, and 400 mg ThBr) used a cocoa vehicle; three matched control beverages (0 mg ThBr, 400 mg ThBr, and 100 mg CAF) used a non-cocoa carrier. Mean salivary [ThBr] exhibited appropriate dose-dependent differences (400 mg trials > 200 mg trial > 100 mg trial > 0 mg trials, p < 0.05). At every dose tested, ThBr failed to consistently affect mood state or vigilance, but 100 mg CAF expectedly decreased lethargy/fatigue and increased vigor (p < 0.05). These findings indicate ThBr does not influence mood and vigilance when administered in nutritionally-relevant doses, despite sharing many of CAF’s characteristics. Further research is needed to better understand the behavioral effects of cocoa and dark chocolate.