Chocolates no blues-buster: Study
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Chocolates no blues-buster: Study

A slab of the bar may not help in actually beating the blues, contrary to popular belief.

india Updated: May 02, 2006 13:55 IST

A chocolate may seem like a saviour when you are down in the dumps, but researchers have now found that a slab of your favourite bar may not help in actually beating the blues.

Gordon Parker and colleagues from the Black Dog Institute in Sydney, have revealed that far from lifting a bad mood, eating chocolate may prolong it. The team says in Journal of Affective Disorders.

“Any mood-state effects of chocolate are as ephemeral as holding a chocolate in one’s mouth,” Professor Parker says.

Many claims have been made for chocolate’s healthy properties, attributed to a range of pharmacologically active constituents such as serotonin, theobromine, phenylethylamine, caffeine and magnesium.

Italian researchers have even claimed that women who enjoy chocolate have a better sex life than those who don’t. “Chocolate is not like a food, it is like a drug,” Andrea Salonia, from San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, has asserted.

Professor Parker offers a more prosaic view. He distinguishes between food cravings, emotional eating, and actual measurements of mood.

“Chocolate can provide its own emotional pleasure 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 depressed mood,” he said. The team cites some key experiments done by others.

For example, most of the chocolate ingredients said to have mood-altering properties are found in higher levels in other foods that do not cause cravings.

And when cravers are offered a choice of milk or plain chocolate, white chocolate or cocoa powder, they go for milk chocolate, although it contains much lower levels of the supposedly psychoactive ingredients than plain chocolate. The unique appeal of chocolate, the team concludes, is its “melt-in-the-mouth” quality, which it owes to cocoa butter with its low melting point.

The other claims made for it do not stand up. “For most people, chocolate invokes anticipatory and consummatory pleasure, and is therefore an indulgence,” the team concludes.

First Published: May 02, 2006 13:55 IST