It's an age-old question: does chocolate make us feel better? Evidence suggests that not only does chocolate taste great, but it also has a range of positive effects on our mental health. In this post, we'll explore how chocolate can improve our moods, reduce stress, and even boost our cognitive functioning.
Chocolate and Moods
One of the most common benefits attributed to chocolate is its ability to improve our moods. Studies have found that dark chocolate can increase the production of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that help us to feel pleasure and happiness. It also reduces the amount of cortisol, a hormone released when we are stressed, in the body. This can help us to feel calm and relaxed, while also reducing anxiety.
Chocolate and Stress
Chocolate can also be beneficial in reducing stress. A study conducted in 2016 indicated that participants who ate either dark or milk chocolate had lower levels of stress hormones after completing a stressful task. The study also found that participants who ate dark chocolate reported feeling more relaxed than those who ate milk chocolate. This is likely due to the higher levels of antioxidants found in dark chocolate, which can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
Chocolate and Cognitive Functioning
In addition to improving our moods and reducing stress, chocolate can also have a positive effect on our cognitive functioning. Studies have shown that consuming chocolate can improve concentration, reaction time, and memory. This is likely because the flavonoids in chocolate can help to improve the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, which helps us to think more clearly.
Overall, the evidence suggests that chocolate can have a range of positive effects on our mental health. From improving our moods and reducing stress, to boosting our cognitive functioning, there is no denying that chocolate can be beneficial. So the next time you need a pick-me-up, reach for a bar of dark chocolate and treat yourself to some mental health benefits.