By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet
"I strongly doubt that chocolate includes depression or interferes with recovery from depression...If either idea were true, this would long ago have become obvious given the ubiquitous use of the substance over the last 500 years."
-- Dr. Lorrin Koran, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral science, at Standford University School of Medicine
Today a new study is being circulated on the Internet. OMG! Chocolate is linked to depression? No way. The research is sketchy, at best. The researchers at the University of California report depressed people eat more chocolate. What's more, reporters--the bittersweet study is being picked up by major newspapers from coast to coast--are claiming that the authors aren't quite sure how the two are connected. Huh? Yet, one expert doubts that chocolate makes people depressed. Ditto. These anti-chocolate Golden State researchers need to pick up a copy of my book The Healing Powers of Chocolate...
Here, take a peek at just a few of these feel-good compounds that work wonders if you're feeling good or not:
* Amandamide: Touted as the "bliss chemical," it occurs naturally in the brain and when released to our brain receptors can provide good feelings.
* Endorphins: Dark chocolate, like exercise, helps release endorphins, natural painkillers in your body that act on the nervous system to alleviate pain.
* PEA: Another brain chemical known as the "chocolate amphetamine," can increase blood pressure and feelings of excitedment and alertness. It also has been called the "love drug" because it can mimic feelings of falling in love.
* Serotonin: This is another brain chemical that can make you feel happier. It is a compound in chocolate that can provide a calming effect.
* Tryptophan: This essential amino acid may react like mood-boosting, calming serotonin, helping to alleviate feelings of anxiety and stress.
The bottom line: It's these feel-good compounds (and minerals, vitamins, and good for you disease-fighting antioxidants) in chocolate, including Hershey's dark chocolate (with its antioxidant seal) that I consume in moderation that make my day. Depressed? Nope. Do I overindulge in chocolate? Nope. I don't get this study. My vote is for a redo. In other words, it should be back to the drawing board because this research doesn't stack up to the known mood-enhancing compounds and its feel-good effects that have been proven to work in chocolate.
One more thing. When I was treated to a four star hotel chocolate bubble bath paired with two homemade dark chocolate truffles, was I depressed? Uh, no! Did I crave more chocolate after savoring the two chocolates? No way. I was in Chocolate Heaven. My sweet cravings were totally satisfied with the good stuff--no desire to eat sweet junk food.
P.S. Today, before I swam I ate one Lindt chocolate truffle (60% cocoa content). Later, after I walked the pooches and before the radio show which I touted chocolate's feel-food powers, I ate another truffle. Calories: about 150. Was I depressed? I don't think so. But this study on chocolate linked to depression is depressing me. It's time for a piece of chocolate! Oops. Does that mean this one study rings true?