Cocoa polyphenols enhance positive mood states but not cognitive performance: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial

J Psychopharmacol. 2013 May;27(5):451-8. doi: 10.1177/0269881112473791. Epub 2013 Jan 29.


This study aimed to examine the acute and sub-chronic effects of cocoa polyphenols on cognition and mood. In a randomized, double-blind study, healthy middle-aged participants received a dark chocolate drink mix standardized to contain 500 mg, 250 mg or 0 mg of polyphenols (placebo) in a parallel-groups design. Participants consumed their assigned treatment once daily for 30 days. Cognition was measured with the Cognitive Drug Research system and self-rated mood with the Bond-Lader Visual Analogue Scale. Participants were tested at baseline, at 1, 2.5 and 4 h after a single acute dose and again after receiving 30 days of treatment. In total, 72 participants completed the trial. After 30 days, the high dose of treatment significantly increased self-rated calmness and contentedness relative to placebo. Mood was unchanged by treatment acutely while cognition was unaffected by treatment at all time points. This randomized controlled trial is perhaps the first to demonstrate the positive effects of cocoa polyphenols on mood in healthy participants. This provides a rationale for exploring whether cocoa polyphenols can ameliorate the symptoms associated with clinical anxiety or depression.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Affect / drug effects*
  • Beverages
  • Cacao / chemistry*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polyphenols / administration & dosage*
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects*


  • Polyphenols