“Every year, the sale of chocolate contributes roughly $63 billion to the global economy” (Gaille, 2017). After which you can likely assume that a vast majority of our population enjoys the indulgence that chocolate often brings and for good reason!
I am sure you have probably heard by now that exercise is linked to the release of endorphins, but did you know that studies done prove that chocolate has similar, if not the same effects on the brain? So those little indulges might actually be doing more than you think.
What Are Endorphins?
“Endorphins are neurotransmitters, which is a type of chemical that neurons use to communicate with each other” (Malley’s Team, 2017)! These neurotransmitters act as a bridge between our perception of pain and the brain, increasing the amount of “feel good” chemicals. These chemicals include serotonin, which many people know as the “happiness” chemical.
You may be asking yourself, okay, can chocolate affect my mood? The short and sweet answer is yes! It can! The main ingredient in chocolate is cocoa, which researchers have found is what causes the brain to release these feel good chemicals, causing an increase in mood!
However, traditionally cocoa is very bitter and thus there was a rise in the popularity of milk chocolates and white chocolates. Keep in mind that the less cocoa powder in the chocolate itself, the less likely you are to be affected greatly in terms of your overall mood or happiness. So how do you do that?
Dark Chocolate and Happiness
The solution is simple: eat as high a concentration of cocoa as possible, AKA dark chocolate! Did you know that all of our traditional cocoa barks (besides the white chocolate ones) are made using a high quality dark chocolate? That means more endorphins, and more endorphins means a natural mood booster!
Where does serotonin come into play? Well that’s also a great question! Endorphins, serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine form the quartet that is responsible for our happiness and all four are released when we eat chocolate!
Related Reading: The Health Benefits of Chocolate
Mood Boosting Chemicals in Chocolate
Yes we all know that serotonin and dopamine are vastly responsible for the influx of “feel good” chemicals in our brain however here are some additional chemicals that contribute to this elevated state of happiness:
1, 3, 7-Trimethylxanthine: More commonly known as Caffeine! We all know that caffeine creates that feeling of alertness and it does so by increasing your heart heart and rate of muscular contraction
Theobromine: Responsible for that energy boost that comes after eating chocolate. This chemical accompanies caffeine to get the job done
Tryptophan: This is the main chemical attributed for causing a sense of elevated happiness when indulging in chocolate as it is found in small quantities in cocoa. Scientifically speaking, it is an amino acid that the brain uses to produce serotonin which like we mentioned earlier is a key component to reaching maximal mood.
Phenylethylalanine: This chemical is largely associated with feelings of excitement, nervousness and initial attraction, which explains why chocolate can be so addicting!
We encourage you to continue reading up on the amazing benefits and research studies conducted that proves the benefits of dark chocolate but for now, get your sweet fix in and stock up on your Sweet Smith favourites!