Researchers from University College London recently conducted a study, published in the Depression and Anxiety journal, to determine the association between chocolate consumption and depression.
To do so, they gathered data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which assesses the health and nutritional status of Americans.
The team examined the chocolate consumption and depressive symptoms, such as anxiety, apathy and hopelessness, of 13,626 adults. They also considered factors including height, weight, marital status, ethnicity, education and household income.
After analyzing the results, they discovered adults who ate chocolate of any kind were less likely to report depressive symptoms, compared to those who had no chocolate.
But dark chocolate seemed to have an edge over the others. Those who ate dark chocolate over a 48-hour period had a 70% lower chance of reporting symptoms of depression, compared to those who had no chocolate at all.
Although the authors noted the sweet treat is known to have psychoactive ingredients that produce a feeling of euphoria, they suggested they didn’t have enough evidence to prove chocolate causes a decrease of depressive symptoms.
"Further research is required to clarify the direction of causation -- it could be the case that depression causes people to lose their interest in eating chocolate, or there could be other factors that make people both less likely to eat dark chocolate and to be depressed," the scientists wrote in a statement. "Should a causal relationship demonstrating a protective effect of chocolate consumption on depressive symptoms be established, the biological mechanism needs to be understood to determine the type and amount of chocolate consumption for optimal depression prevention and management."
Want to learn more about their findings? Take a look at the full study here.