Chocolate in Health and Nutrition

Volume 7 of the series Nutrition and Health pp 409-419


Chocolate: Mood

  • Marlene M. MillenAffiliated withDepartment of Internal Medicine, San Diego School of Medicine, University of California
  • , Beatrice A. GolombAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine and Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, San Diego School of Medicine, University of California Email author 

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Key Points

  • Chocolate and mood are strongly intertwined in the popular imagination. The strong body of chocolate lore is not matched by a strong body of evidence.

  • Theoretically, chocolate bears many substances and properties that could influence mood, favorably and adversely. The balance of favorable to adverse effects could differ by individual and timing after chocolate consumption.

  • Favorable effects on mood might be mediated by methylxanthines (caffeine and theobromine), catechins, biogenic amines like serotonin and ethylamine, and cannabinoid receptor agonists like anandamine. Antioxidant functions and cell energy support through mitochondrial biogenesis (mediated by epicatechin) might support positive mood.

  • Detrimental effects on mood might be mediated by methylxanthine excess or withdrawal, effects of copper, or effects of trans-fatty acids (where these have polluted the chocolate product).

  • Empirically, few studies in humans have examined the relation of chocolate to mood. Based on the scant extant literature, mood associations appear to be favorable immediately after eating chocolate that is perceived as palatable. In studies not focused upon the immediate effect, greater chocolate consumption has been linked to lower mood, but it is not clear which (if either) drives which.


Chocolate Mood Depression Methylxanthines Biogenic amines Anandamine Catechins Antioxidant Mmm