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Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects mood. One such mood disorder is depression, which is a medical disorder that affects the mind and the body. This disorder is not a sign of weakness but is a chronic illness that sometimes requires long-term treatment with medication and counseling. Another brain disorder that is affected by serotonin is obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. There are several means of affecting the levels of serotonin in the brain. Dark chocolate is one that many find pleasurable.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Role of Serotonin
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is synthesized from an amino acid protein molecule called L-tryptophan. The neurotransmitter can be found in the intestinal wall, large blood vessels and the central nervous system. In the absence of serotonin, your behavior becomes aggressive. Medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are used to treat depression by increasing the amount of serotonin in the extracellular space, thus positively affecting mood.
- Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is synthesized from an amino acid protein molecule called L-tryptophan.
- Medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are used to treat depression by increasing the amount of serotonin in the extracellular space, thus positively affecting mood.
Dark Chocolate and Milk Chocolate
Caffeine and Dove Dark Chocolate
The difference between milk and dark chocolates is based on the processing of the cocoa and the ingredients added. To be called dark or bittersweet chocolate, it must contain at least 35 percent or more cocoa liquor, the essence of the cocoa bean. The higher the amount of liquor, the lower the percentage of sugar. Dark chocolate can range as high as 84 percent cocoa liquor. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that milk chocolate have 10 percent or more cocoa liquor. Milk or cream is added to soften or mask the taste of the liquor.
- The difference between milk and dark chocolates is based on the processing of the cocoa and the ingredients added.
- To be called dark or bittersweet chocolate, it must contain at least 35 percent or more cocoa liquor, the essence of the cocoa bean.
Effects of Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate has many health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels and improving blood flow to the brain and heart. These benefits may be derived from the flavanol antioxidants that are in the dark chocolate. Because dark chocolate increases serotonin in the brain, researchers are investigating the potential that it can increase the amount of serotonin in the gut, which would boost your immune system. Walcutt cautions that before you grab an ounce of dark chocolate, you should put down the glass of milk you were going to drink with it. Because of the chemical reaction between the two, drinking the milk with the dark chocolate will reduce any benefits your body will receive from the chocolate.
- Dark chocolate has many health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels and improving blood flow to the brain and heart.
- Because of the chemical reaction between the two, drinking the milk with the dark chocolate will reduce any benefits your body will receive from the chocolate.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Is Milk Chocolate Healthy?
While there are benefits to increasing your serotonin levels, you may also get too much chocolate or too much serotonin. Walcutt cautions that too much dark chocolate can cause complications for migraine sufferers, increase weight gain and lead to kidney stones and heartburn.
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- Cleveland Clinic; Heart-Health Benefits of Chocolate Unveiled; February 2010
- PsychCentral; Chocolate and Mood Disorders; Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D.; April 2009
- Camps-bossacoma M, Abril-gil M, Saldaña-ruiz S, Franch À, Pérez-cano FJ, Castell M. Cocoa Diet Prevents Antibody Synthesis and Modifies Lymph Node Composition and Functionality in a Rat Oral Sensitization Model. Nutrients. 2016;8(4):242. doi:10.3390/nu8040242
- Rodríguez-lagunas MJ, Vicente F, Pereira P, Castell M, Pérez-cano FJ. Relationship between Cocoa Intake and Healthy Status: A Pilot Study in University Students. Molecules. 2019;24(4). doi:10.3390/molecules24040812
- Rossini K, Noreña CP, Brandelli A. Changes in the color of white chocolate during storage: potential roles of lipid oxidation and non-enzymatic browning reactions. J Food Sci Technol. 2011;48(3):305-11. doi:10.1007/s13197-010-0207-x
- Nemours. Food allergies: how to cope. Reviewed September 2015
- McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. "Chapter 12: Sugars, Chocolate, and Confectionary." Rev. Ed. New York: Scribner. 2004.
Gail Morris has been writing extensively since 1997. She completed a master's degree in nursing at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and practiced in medicine for more than 20 years. Morris has published medical articles in peer-reviewed journals and now writes for various online publications and freelances for Internet marketers.