Is Eating Chocolate a Good Way to Improve Our Mood?

The Good, The Bad and The Disappointing

I don’t know about you, but I love chocolate. To the point where I sometimes prefer not to have too much of it in my house. If it is there, I’ll generally eat more of it than I would like to! But why is it so tempting? Is it because it makes me feel good? Does it really have a positive impact on our mood?

The Good

In an interesting review of the chocolate and mood research in 2012 by Scholey and Owen they found five studies that showed either an attenuation of negative mood or a facilitation of
mood state when interventions (chocolate consumption) were compared with their respective controls (non chocolate consumption). They reported that chocolate is the most commonly craved food, and, for most chocolate cravers, nonchocolate substitutes are inadequate.

A small piece of chocolate (5 grams) can improve a negative mood more than drinking water. However, when the chocolate isn’t palatable, it doesn’t improve your mood as much. Having an apple can also improve your mood a little bit, but not as much as chocolate does. Benefits of chocolate may last for as little as three minutes, or as long as 90 minutes. Now you know chocolate can improve your mood!

The Bad

As usual there are a few caveats to the good news about chocolate. The first is, it must be the type you like. For example, some research suggests that the health benefits of really dark chocolate (85% cocoa) are more than chocolate with less cocoa. However, chocolate this dark can also be less palatable for a lot of people (given it has the texture of chalk!).  This may lead to the mood benefits being lost in a disgust reaction!   

Similarly, the improvement might vary between 3 -90 minutes. Unfortunately a chocolate boost in the morning won’t last the whole day.

The Disappointing

As you would be well aware if you eat too much chocolate the mood benefits might be outweighed by the fact that it is high in sugar and calories!


Given that moderate use is the wisest choice, if you are finding that you are still wanting a mood boost after a chocolate fix, then consulting with a psychologist for other strategies might help you to find the right balance that you are looking for.

If you don’t feel as happy as you would like to, booking a session with a psychologist here at the Centre for Clinical Psychology could help.


Scholey, A., & Owen, L. (2013). Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review. Nutrition reviews71(10), 665–681.

Shin, J. H., Kim, C. S., Cha, L., Kim, S., Lee, S., Chae, S., Chun, W. Y., & Shin, D. M. (2022). 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 biochemistry99, 108854.