Why Do We Eat Chocolate?

The effects it has on us and our brain

Chocolate
Chocolate

It is rare to find something as downright delicious as chocolate that is also good for you. We don’t just love the way it tastes but the way it makes us feel. Dark chocolate increases the production of ‘feel-good’ chemicals known as endorphins. Endorphins bind with opiate receptors in the brain leading to feelings of euphoria, like the kind joggers get from “runner’s high.” They also reduce pain and diminish the negative effects of stress.

Chocolate is a top dietary source of tryptophan, an amino acid precursor to serotonin, the neurotransmitter of happiness and positive mood. Dark chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a compound called the “love drug” because it creates a brain buzz like being in love. Theobromine, a compound also found in chocolate that’s related to caffeine, is thought to make chocolate a mild aphrodisiac.

Chocolate is the main food source of anandamide, a naturally occurring compound called the “bliss molecule.” This neurotransmitter is very similar to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive component in marijuana.

Magnesium is so good at helping you relax that it’s been dubbed the “original chill pill.” This essential mineral reduces stress by suppressing the release of the stress hormone cortisol. 100grams of dark chocolate contains 148mg of Magnesium, 38% of your recommended daily intake.

Eating a little dark chocolate has been shown to reduce cravings for junk food of all kinds — sweet, salty, and fatty. Consequently, it can help you make healthy food choices, cut calories and lose weight. It seems that the sensory experience of eating dark chocolate is an important part of its ability to satisfy cravings. When scientists put the beneficial ingredients of chocolate in a pill, it did not have the same effect.

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Chloe Grima is a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Arts from Swinburne University. Her career goal is to be an editor for either Vogue or Little Brown. When she’s not nose deep in a great book or writing away, you can find her searching for the next amazing fashion piece and the perfect pair of black jeans. In her spare time, she loves going to the movies, finding great places to eat and playing the occasional video game.