There’s been a lot of talk about the health benefits of dark chocolate for your body, but what about your brain? Chocolate has several properties that have the ability to change your mood and, of course, stimulate your taste buds.
Theobromine and Caffeine
Chocolate contains the chemical substances theobromine and caffeine, which are stimulants. While theobromine affects the central nervous system less than caffeine, it stimulates the heart much more than caffeine. Both of these substances can temporarily increase energy, but if abused they cause sleeplessness, anxiety, tremors and restlessness.
Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine a chemical that the brain releases when we fall in love. However, it has been proven that phenylethylamine is quickly metabolized, and may not significantly affect the brain. But whenever it combines with dopamine in our brain, it does act as an antidepressant.
On the negative side, phenylethylamine may also cause headaches because it dilates vessels in the brain.
Serotonin is released when chocolate is eaten, and communicates a feeling of calm while stabilizing your moods.
Endorphins, also released when chocolate is eaten, send high levels of energy to the brain and give you a sense of euphoria. Endorphins have also been known as effective painkillers.
Chocolate contains anandamide, which helps open the synapses in the brain that allow feelings of happiness to transmit easily. Anandamide is the same brain receptor that responds to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. However, it would take 25 pounds of chocolate in one sitting to feel the same high because anandamide is broken down quickly and easily. It is suspected that it does preserve a feeling of well-being.