Going out with friends, exercising, winning a prize, reading a book. These are little things that make us feel good. But have you ever wondered why eating chocolate makes you happy?
There are days when I feel more tired and discouraged than others. Those in which I would like to be resting or relaxing at home or in a SPA. This week I had one of those days, and it occurred to me to go with my coworkers to buy a bar of chocolate.
After eating it, I felt energised almost immediately. It had even improved my mood. I don’t like to eat sweets, but for some reason, I love chocolates. Not just because of its taste, it seemed to affect my behaviour.
And this is something you see a lot in the movies. When we are sad, we eat chocolates to feel better. So when we are dating someone, and they give us chocolates, we feel more in love.
Why eating chocolate makes you happy.
We usually associate eating chocolate with happiness. This is something that some companies like Hershey’s have promoted in their digital campaigns. The following video is one of them:
Beyond being something we see in advertisements, there are scientific reasons why eating chocolate makes you happy.
This delicious food is made up of more than 300 natural chemicals. Some affect the human brain by releasing neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions and how we feel.
The Science Focus site shares some of the components that chocolate has and its effect on our bodies:
- Tryptophan is – essential amino acid for human nutrition; the brain uses it to produce serotonin, a chemical that functions as a neurotransmitter responsible for experiencing feelings of happiness.
- Phenylethylamine – aromatic amine associated with the initial euphoria of falling in love. It promotes feelings of excitement and attraction and works as an antidepressant by combining with the dopamine in the brain.
- Theobromine – the substance that has diuretic, vasodilator and muscle relaxation properties. It belongs to the methylxanthines family, is also found in caffeine, and stimulates the nervous system causing a sensation of pleasure and well-being.
- Flavonol – this type of antioxidant is responsible for preventing cell ageing and degenerative processes. Also, consuming it at least once a week stimulates blood circulation in the area of the brain, which promotes memory.
What kind of chocolate is better?
According to an NCBI study, milk and dark chocolate can reduce stress levels.
The results showed that consuming 40 grams of dark or milk chocolate for two weeks reduced stress to a greater extent than consuming white chocolate, which showed a more significant effect in women.
This is not due to how sweet each one is, but rather the number of cocoa solids, which is nil in white chocolate.
Why does this happen?
Stress has been shown to increase lipid peroxidation and cause an imbalance between the activities of antioxidant enzymes. Therefore, consuming foods with antioxidants such as cocoa solids is a good strategy to reduce stress.
BBC advises that if you eat chocolate, it should be dark chocolate, ideally with a minimum of 85% cocoa. In addition to helping you with good performance and stress, it has less fat and sugar than milk chocolate.
Why does chocolate make us happy?
Surely, you have been sad many times, and someone has tried to cheer you up with a little chocolate. Why is it?
Chocolate is a product made up of sugar and cocoa. Due to its ingredients, it is usually a dangerous food in the diet since its high content of fats and sugars can cause us to increase our body weight.
But chocolate is not just an evil source of sugars and fats, as many think. Upside down. It is an important food in the diet. This product, with a percentage of more than 70% cocoa, has many benefits for our body, especially our brain.
I hope you have some chocolate on hand because, today, at Instituto Serca, we will tell you why chocolate makes you happy. Inside post!
Psychological effects of chocolate consumption: neurotransmitters
because chocolate makes us happyThat, chocolate affects our mood is not something new.
Eating cocoa is related to the feeling of pleasure since this product is a powerful releaser of neurotransmitters that cause feelings of well-being.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals created by our body that transmit information from one neuron to the next through contact points called synapses. There are different types, each with different functions.
Chocolate has a series of (natural) chemicals, which cause the neurotransmitters in our brain to activate, which affects our emotions.
chemical elements of chocolate
Tryptophan. It is a substance used by the brain to produce serotonin (happiness hormone), related to pleasure. This is why chocolate gives us that feeling of sedation, happiness and “adult pleasure.”
Phenylethylamine. This chemical is a natural hormone in our brain, which is also found in chocolate and helps us release endorphins. This is related to the addiction to this food, the feeling of falling in love or well-being. That’s why when we’re sad, we eat chocolate.
Theobromine. It is the least known compound. It is a stimulant that contributes to the energy power of cocoa. It works similarly to caffeine, stimulating the nervous system and producing pleasure and well-being in our brains.
Because chocolate makes us happy
Benefits of chocolate for your brain
In addition to everything we are telling you about chocolate making us happy, it also has many benefits for our brain since it stimulates it by improving attention and concentration.
It improves brain function due to increased blood flow to the brain and its stimulating substances, which helps prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Increases short-term memory and response speed.
Be careful not to eat too much chocolate.
As with almost everything in this life, it is not recommended to exceed the intake of this food. Instead, you know what they say about “the good, in small doses”.
It is not recommended to abuse its consumption because it is a process rich in fat and calories. Most chocolates are high in sugar and low in cocoa content, which can harm our diet. However, a small dose of dark chocolate a day is enough to improve our mood.
In addition, we must be careful because, due to the sensation of pleasure, we can use it in an addictive way as an escape route to control anxiety or depression, giving rise to eating behaviour disorders and other diseases such as obesity.
natural antidepressant antidepressant
The organisation emphasises that it is a food that reduces stress levels and acts as a natural antidepressant. This is because, when we consume it, the stress hormones in our body are significantly reduced, increasing serotonin levels. And with it increases the feeling of tranquillity and concentration.
Chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa encourages the production of endorphins, which are responsible for pleasure hormones. It also stimulates brain activity, reducing the risk of mental illness. Therefore, chocolate stimulates happiness and helps prevent future disorders.
Other little-known benefits
The Ecuadorian organic chocolate company Pacari focuses on many other benefits of chocolate. As they indicate, this food contains fibre that helps keep cholesterol at bay, is good for digestive health and is ideal for the skin: it contains phenols and catechins, two antioxidants that fight premature ageing. And they insist that “our chocolate, having a very high percentage of cocoa, makes the consumer enjoy a sweet moment at the same time as ingesting a product with a large number of benefits.”