The mood-boosting effects of chocolate have been touted for quite some time, but more recent research has shown a particular link between dark chocolate and anxiety.
Now, when we talk about chocolate, we're talking about only dark chocolate. Milk chocolate has almost no nutritional value, and white chocolate isn't even really chocolate. The closer you get to pure dark chocolate the more likely the food has value. If you can get sugar free dark chocolate that's even better.
Cocoa has the highest concentration of flavonoids among commonly consumed foods. Scientists have found that certain flavonoids have antihistamine, antimicrobial, memory- and even mood-enhancing properties.
Low serotonin is one of the leading causes (and outcomes) of anxiety. Dark chocolate provides large amounts of Tryptophan, an amino acid that also works as a precursor to serotonin. So, it’s possible that by ingesting more dark chocolate, you’re improving your serotonin levels.
Another ingredient in chocolate is theobromine — an ingredient that studies have shown can have a positive, mood elevating effect on those that ingest it.
Dark chocolate also contains high amounts of magnesium. Studies are starting to show that magnesium may be one of the few nutrients that has a noticeable effect on anxiety. People often take magnesium supplements, but getting your magnesium through food is considered a much healthier overall option.
Those who suffer from severe anxiety will usually require professional medical help, and we would never intend to replace the advice of your doctor or psychologist. But, for mild-to-moderate levels of anxiety, making changes to diet and lifestyle can make a real difference. Just like there are foods that harm or help our bodies, there are foods that harm or help our mental health.
Source: University Health News