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Chocolate’s Mood-Lifting High is Temporary, Researchers Say

Do you ever dash for chocolate to soothe your bummed-out feelings?

Do you hope that the sweet, creamy substance helps lift you up with a nice "high"? And it really does help — at least ever-so briefly, right?

But then, don’t you find — almost as quickly as you can say "sugar buzz" — that your feelings of melancholy and depression return?

Of course, many of us have learned this on our own — that the chocolate we sought to boost our spirits only made us feel better very, very temporarily.

Well, researchers from the School of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales in Australia — who assessed chocolate’s alleged anti-depressant qualities — came to much the same conlusion.

After reviewing research findings on the relationship between chocolate and mood, they explained in the Journal of Affective Disorders that:

"Any mood benefits of chocolate consumption are ephemeral."

(Yep, been there way back in 1998 and before. "Ephemeral" is exactly the word to describe the fleeting feelings of a "chocolate high.")

Reporter Hilary E. MacGregor of the Los Angeles Times offers her take on the chocolate study.

"There is no evidence that eating chocolate removes feelings of depression, the scientists found," she writes.

Now, let’s see what the Australian researchers, headed up by Gordon Parker, a professor at the University of New South Wales, report in the Journal of Affective Disorders:

"Popular claims confer on chocolate the properties of being a stimulant, relaxant, euphoriant, aphrodisiac, tonic and antidepressant. The last claim stimulated this review….

"…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."

Did you get that?

The comfort you get from chocolate prolongs your blues, rather than stops them.

I do hope that finding gives you some enticement to kick the sweet stuff. (Remember, I’m here to help you — so if you need encouragement and more, I’d love to have you join my free, online KickSugar support group.)

* * *

I could go on and on about the deceptive appeal of sugary chocolate and how eating too much slams us into SUGAR SHOCK!  and a whole lot more.

Suffice it to say that I have some great reservations about chocolate. I’m totally against sweetened milk chocolate.

I am, however, a fan of unsweetened cacao beans or cacao nibs, which you can get either here or here or even here at, I’m not recommending it as a mood booster.)

To be fair, some experts also recommend dark chocolate with minimal sweeteners (if you can handle sugars), but frankly I’m just not a fan of any kind if chocolate with sweeteners.

* * *

After reporting about the Australian study, journalist MacGregor of The Los Angeles Times singles out work done by Janet Polivy, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto.

In fact, she, too, conducted a chocolate-craving study published last year in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

"Chocolate is the most craved food," she said. "It does seem to be something special. But there is little evidence that it alters neurotransmitters or mood."

Hmm. Intriguing studies.

But, unless I’m missing something, why was information about the blood sugar affects of chocolate omitted from the study?

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One thought on “Chocolate’s Mood-Lifting High is Temporary, Researchers Say

  1. Hi Connie,
    Great site, blog, concept, information etc…all very well done. I love your style and humor in getting across such an important health message. Good luck on your book.

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