Quentin Bacon

Exciting news for berry, tea, and chocolate lovers. New research finds that the natural ingredients in these foods bear a striking chemical similarity to a widely used prescription mood-stabilizing drug, and may have some of the same benefits.

“Molecules in chocolate, a variety of berries and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids have shown positive effects on mood. In turn, our studies show that some commonly used flavor components are structurally similar to valproic acid,” said Karina Martinez-Mayorga, Ph.D., leader of a research team that has been studying the effects of flavors on mood. Valproic acid is used to manage mood swings in people with bipolar disorder. It is also prescribed to control seizures and migraines.

Martinez-Mayorga presented her findings at the the American Chemical Society meeting in Philadelphia, and noted that her research is preliminary; patients should never substitute food for prescription medicine. However, in the quest for a healthy mind and body, chocolate, berries, tea, and omega-3-rich foods are a smart move anyway.