Benefits of Dark Chocolate for Mood

Did you know that the of chocolates goes as far back as the 1500s!

It was usually used as a form of remedy for treating various illnesses including mental fatigue!

Chocolate or cacao in Olmec was widely used as a form of treatment was practiced by the Olmec, Maya and Mexica (Aztec - These are the earliest tribes making up the Mesoamerican civilization.

Chocolates which came from cacao were used as a form of treatment. Its flowers and beans were used in the treatment of fatigue, fever, faint heart and so on. Its bark, leaves and oil were used in the treatments of skin irritation, burns, cuts and bowel dysfunction etc.

In the 16th to 17th century, scientists were able to discover more than 100 medicinal uses of chocolates!

Chocolates were also served as a form of beverage only for the elites. It is commonly known to be said “Chocolate is food- Chocolate is medicine”. Chocolates were served as a very prestigious beverage reserved for nobility, it served as a symbol of luxury, wealth. It used to be preserved for royalty, government officials, and distinguished warriors. The Mexica perceived it to be an intoxicating food and were kept away from women and children.1

Chocolates taken in different forms, with or without other ingredients have so many medicinal benefits that it sounds so miraculous. Some of the health benefits of chocolates includes:

  • Reduces Agitation
  • Improves Anaemia
  • Reduces heart pain
  • Contains Aphrodisiac properties (Improves Sexual Appetite)
  • Reduces cancer
  • Increases breast milk production
  • Improve the probability of conception
  • Facilitates child delivery
  • Reduces general distress
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Improves life

Many physicians and scientists have attested to the wholesome benefits of chocolates.

Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, autor de Curioso Tratado de la Naturaleza wrote in his treatise in 1631. Colmenero de Ledesma stated that chocolate. "causes conception in women, hastens and facilitates their delivery; aids digestion, it cures consumptions, and the cough of the lungs, the New Disease, or plague of the guts, and other fluxes, the green sickness, jaundice, and all manner of inflammations and obstructions. It cleans the teeth, and sweetens the breath, provokes urine, cures the stone, and expels poison, and preserves from all infectious diseases".

William Hughes, an author of a scientific publication on the ethnobotany of plants growing in English plantations in America in 1672.

Hughes also wrote that chocolate was nourishing to consumers who required “speedy refreshment after travel, hard labor, or violent exercise” that has a thrilling effect on all parts of the body”. Hughes urged readers living in England to drink chocolate, especially persons with “weak and thin bodies, or are troubled with cold, catarrhs, etc. It is also safe for the elderly especially in the heat of summer".1

The use of chocolate, either as medicine or as food allows you to enjoy a deep connection through history, from the time of the Olmec over 3000 years ago to this day, from the frothy cacao beverages prepared at the court of the King Moctezuma, to the era of the modern chocolate bar.1

Health benefits of dark chocolate

In truth, the health benefits that are known with earlier chocolates may not hold true for common chocolate brands. This is because, recent chocolates are well processed and are sometimes fermented in order to increase its palatability and reduce the bitterness that comes with pure chocolates. These processes reduce the composition of these chocolates such as flavanols, polyphenols that yield a lot of the benefits of chocolates.  

Nevertheless, the health benefits of chocolates are usually in reference to dark chocolates. Other types of chocolates include; Milk chocolates, White chocolates, Gianduja chocolates.2

  1. Dark chocolates contain up to 80% of cocoa bean solids and are known to be the healthiest due to the high amount of cocoa present in them.2
  2. Gianduja chocolate is usually brown and consists of hazelnuts, cocoa, and sugar.
  3. White chocolate has a sweet taste and consists of cocoa butter, milk, and sugar with no cocoa solids.
  4.  Milk chocolate is usually bright in appearance and contains cocoa butter, sugar, milk powder, lecithin, and cocoa of about 20–25%.2

1. Serves as a source of antioxidants

Would you believe that dark chocolates have a higher amount of antioxidants than green tea?!

Antioxidants are compounds that help in preventing damage to cells in the body. They exist naturally in certain plants and foods. They serve as anti-cancer, anti-aging components etc.

A good example of a natural antioxidant are polyphenols.

The main component of dark chocolates, cocoa, has a high amount of polyphenols. Although these chocolates go through a lot of processing during manufacturing, they still have a higher amount of polyphenols than some fruits and green teas!

Dark chocolates also increase production of nitric oxide (NO) which has a strong antioxidant effect.

In some areas, dark chocolates serve as the main contributors to the intake of antioxidants. In Holland, chocolate brings up to 20% of the flavonoids for adults and much more for children. In the United States, chocolate is the third product on the list of foods with antioxidants after fruits and vegetables. 

2. Improves the heart and brain health

The polyphenols that exist in dark chocolates are known as flavanols.

The flavanols present in dark chocolate lead to the generation of nitric oxide (NO) which helps to lower blood pressure. They're also a good source of theobromine. Theobromine is a caffeine-related compound found in chocolate. It acts as a stimulant and vasodilator. It increases blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain.

Flavanols and Theobromine help in lowering blood pressure, lower the risk of heart diseases and help to improve blood vessel function i. e aids the transportation of blood cells, nutrients, and oxygen to the tissues of the body.8

The regular intake of dark chocolates is helpful in maintaining blood pressure, insulin resistance, and vascular and platelet function.

The daily consumption of chocolate may reduce the possibility of cerebral conditions such as a stroke attack. A large Japanese population-based, prospective cohort study reported an association between chocolate consumption and lower risk of stroke in women but not in men.

3. Improves gut health

In your body, there are certain bacteria that serve as the ‘good guys’. They are bacterias that help your body function better and improve digestion, body metabolism etc. Cocoa in dark chocolates helps these good bacteria flourish and improves general well being.

Does dark chocolate improve mood?

Yes, they do!

Mood is simply the temporary state of your mind or feelings,5 it could be good or bad.

Dark chocolates have been found to improve mood, that is, improves a good mood and is a cause of reducing bad mood.

Mood imbalance could be said to be when your emotional state or mood causes you to be unable to function properly, for example, mood imbalance is found to be a huge cause for people to miss school and work. 

Dark chocolates are known to be good mood enhancers and are popularly called “brain food”. They are also known to boost the production of feel-good hormones such as endorphins, from the brain. Endorphins induce a feeling of excitement and reduce stress. These endorphins are usually stimulated by the flavanols present in dark chocolates. Cocoa compounds are also involved in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that boosts mood.

Is dark chocolate good for depression?

Depression is a common and serious mental disorder that negatively affects how you feel, it affects individuals of all ages, causing reduced interest in daily activities, poor concentration, feeling sad, changes in sleep pattern, along with other symptoms.6

Dark chocolates are found to lessen the effects of mood disorders, such as anxiety, depression due to their composition.

Chocolate stimulates the release of various neurotransmitters in the brain that make you feel good when you're depressed such as serotonin, phenylethylamine. They trigger certain emotions and effectively reduce stress and decrease pain, this is the reason why chocolate is known to be a comfort food. 

Is dark chocolate a mood stabilizer?

Mood stabilizers are generally defined as a group of medications that are used to treat and manage bipolar disorders.9 

Dark chocolates cause the stimulation of endorphins,a happy hormone that helps people feel good and stabilizes mood. Endorphins help trigger positive feelings, a major function of mood stabilizers.10

How does dark chocolate improve mental health?

The ingredients of dark chocolates help trigger certain 'feel-good' hormones and effectively improves your mental health by decreasing pain and stress and makes you feel better whilst improving your overall health. 


Dark chocolates are commonly known to be a comfort food especially when you feel sad or depressed. It has been found to contain so many health benefits than you can imagine.

Yes! It does improve your mood due to the amazing ingredients it contains that helps you feel good and ease stress and pain.

Dark chocolates are a healthy option to satisfy your cravings. It is important to know the amount of cocoa present, the more cocoa… the better the chocolate. 

As much as it would be nice to eat dark chocolates all the time, it has to be taken in moderation.


  1. Dillinger TL, Barriga P, Escárcega S, Jimenez M, Lowe DS, Grivetti LE. Food of the gods: cure for humanity? A cultural history of the medicinal and ritual use of chocolate. The Journal of Nutrition [Internet]. 2000 Aug 1 [cited 2022 Dec 26];130(8):2057S-2072S. Available from:
  2. Montagna MT, Diella G, Triggiano F, Caponio GR, Giglio OD, Caggiano G, et al. Chocolate, “food of the gods”: history, science, and human health. IJERPH [Internet]. 2019 Dec 6 [cited 2022 Dec 26];16(24):4960. Available from:
  3. Shin JH, Kim CS, Cha L, Kim S, Lee S, Chae S, et al. Consumption of 85% cocoa dark chocolate improves mood in association with gut microbial changes in healthy adults: a randomized controlled trial. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry [Internet]. 2022 Jan 1 [cited 2022 Dec 28];99:108854. Available from:
  4. Scholey A, Owen L. Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review. Nutr Rev [Internet]. 2013 Oct [cited 2022 Dec 28];71(10):665–81. Available from:
  5. Mood: examples & types - video & lesson transcript [Internet]. [cited 2022 Dec 29]. Available from:
  6. Older women & depression: a link to lower sex hormone levels? [Internet]. Klarity Health Library. [cited 2022 Dec 29]. Available from:
  7. Davidson JR, Meltzer-Brody SE. The underrecognition and undertreatment of depression: what is the breadth and depth of the problem?. Journal of clinical psychiatry. 1999 Jan 1;60(7):4-11.
  8. Ludovici V, Barthelmes J, Nägele MP, Enseleit F, Ferri C, Flammer AJ, et al. Cocoa, blood pressure, and vascular function. Front Nutr [Internet]. 2017 Aug 2 [cited 2022 Dec 30];4:36. Available from:
  9. Nath M, Gupta V. Mood stabilizers. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL):StatPearls Publishing; 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 30]. Available from:
  10. Khursheed M, Ashraf Z, Kamran J, Alam N, Waleed I, Jillani A. Endorphins as mood stabilizing agents. World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research. 2016 Aug 28;5(11):117-24.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Faaizah Ibrahim

BSc Human Anatomy, University of Ilorin, Nigeria

Faaizah is an Anatomist with experience as a Radiographer Assistant both in the hospital and outpatient centers.
Faaizah is an Author, a blog writer with 2 co-authored published research articles.
With three years experience working as a writer and editor for her University magazine.

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