As you take that first bite of chocolate, you might notice that your mood changes almost instantly. It seems that such a small treat can give you a rush of happiness in a different way than any other sweet out there. If you’ve ever suspected that there’s a correlation between chocolate and your brain chemistry, you’d be absolutely correct! And contrary to popular belief, it actually has nothing to do with the sugar rush you’d get from other foods like donuts, candies, or ice cream.
Chocolate and Brain Chemistry
Romantic comedies never fail to use chocolate as the notorious post-heartbreak food, but there’s actually some truth to why that would make sense. Chocolate is often referred to as the “happiness drug” or the “love drug” because the compounds found in chocolate have been shown to have a positive effect on the brain.
Tryptophan, Phenylethylamine & Theobromine
The three main compounds responsible for making chocolate a guaranteed mood-booster are tryptophan, phenylethylamine, and theobromine. And since their names can be quite intimidating, let’s break down what each compound actually means!
Tryptophan is an amino acid that our brain’s use to produce serotonin, the happy hormone that stabilizes our mood. Our body needs proper amounts of serotonin to have a positive outlook on life, sleep well, calm our nerves, and even to digest the foods that we eat.
Likewise, phenylethylamine acts as a natural antidepressant that produces similar feelings to when you’re falling in love, such as excitement and motivation. If you’ve ever wondered why chocolate is always linked to love, well, now you know that science actually supports this romantic gesture!
Theobromine acts similarly to cannabis in the sense of stimulating a high, but a much more subtle one. This compound can produce a relaxing effect on the body and might even help with reducing anxiety. Especially at a time like now, full of uncertainty and isolation, it should be a priority to eat foods that can improve your mental health rather than strengthen feelings of stress.
Should You Eat Chocolate Every Day?
After learning the connection between chocolate and brain chemistry, your next question is probably along the lines of, “Should I eat chocolate every day?” And to answer your question, it’s entirely dependent on what kind of chocolate you’re eating.
Although many chocolates taste delicious, they aren’t all created equal. Since some chocolates contain high levels of refined sugar, the cons may outweigh the pros in this situation. The myth that chocolate is bad for your health can be misleading, but there’s also a reason it exists, and that reason is because of the fillers added to most chocolates on the market. You want to look for organic dark chocolate that’s sweetened with low-glycemic sugar, like coconut sugar, to avoid spikes in your blood sugar levels.
Raw cacao is full of antioxidants and minerals that not only support weight loss but improve your mood and emotional stability. So yes, if your chocolate is dark, organic, and free of unnecessary fillers, then feel free to enjoy chocolate every single day!