Mmmmm . . . chocolate and mood

So many people love eating chocolate, and believe it is a mood-influencing food giving pleasure plus a lift in mood – a happyfood!

Now research suggests that many depressed people really do eat more chocolate. These findings came from both men and women who scored high on a psychometric depression scale but who were not receiving medication. There were no reported increases in other antioxident-rich foods, or other sources of caffeine, fat or sugar, between these depressed adults and non-depressed adults, just the increased chocolate consumption. What is not known is why the chocolate intake increased.

The evolutionary hypothesis explains our liking of chocolate as a combination of pleasures – the sweetness, the creamy texture in the mouth perhaps in some way reminiscent of breast milk – with the high energy-denseness of this food. But there is a complete lack of evidence that breast milk, even in mothers who do eat a lot of chocolate, has any chocolate flavour! So this does not explain why consumption of chocolate rather than any other sweet and creamy food increased in depressed people. Is it the pleasure which is the key factor? Or is it the cultural perception of chocolate as a reward food? Or is there another reason?