The molecules in chocolate and strawberries are shown to improve your mood
Some food adverts make it look as though just one mouthful of chocolate or ice cream is enough to send you into a state of ecstasy and while that’s a bit of a stretch, new research does show that certain food flavours have similar effects on your mood to prescription medications.
Researchers from Torrey Pines Institute of Molecular Studies in California analysed the effects of more than 1,700 substances that are the source of flavours found in common everyday foods. Knowing that chocolate tends to have a positive effect on mood, the researchers looked at its components. They found that molecules found in chocolate, as well as in some berries and foods containing omega-3 such as oily fish, were similar to a substance called valproic acid. Valproic acid is a chemical used in mood-stablising drugs. It’s used to help ‘level out’ the moods of people who suffer with emotional ups and downs and for bi-polar disorder.
The chemicals that appear similar to valproic acid are found in chocolate, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and teas, so these foods could potentially be good for people suffering with mood swings. It is important to remember that this evidence doesn’t mean that people could consume them instead of taking their prescribed medication, warn the researchers. “Eating foods that may improve food is not a substitute for prescribed antidepressive drugs,” says Dr Karina Martinez-Mayorga, lead study author. But for people who are not taking medication, eating mood-enhancing foods may well make them feel more positive.
Subscribe to our fortnightly health newsletter for more interesting health features and news stories delivered straight to your inbox.