The Science Behind the Love of Chocolate
There are many things that a large number of people share; one of those is a desire to eat chocolate. What many don’t realize is the science behind the love of chocolate. Besides being smooth, sweet, and fun to eat, there’s a chemical reason why people enjoy eating it so much.
Food is absolutely necessary for life. Many people don’t realize how sharing certain foods such as chocolate can draw us together. Not only does it nourish the body, but it nourishes the soul and is often associated with feeling good about ourselves.
Chocolate is made from the beans of the cacao plant. And, in the past chocolate was used as an herbal medicine. It was used to treat poor sex drive, depression, and fatigue as well as helping reduce weight gain. What ancient Latin Americans instinctively knew, modern scientists are beginning to learn.
Chocolate is full of antioxidants which are good for you, called polyphenols. Some of the main ingredients found in the raw form of chocolate, cocoa, are flavonoids such as catechin, epicatechin, and procyanidins. It is the catechin and epicatechin which help the body maintain health. Dark chocolate and cocoa have more of these polyphenols than milk or other chocolates.
Recent medical studies have proven that chocolate can help improve your cardiovascular health. Improvement of the arteries can be seen as early as three hours after eating chocolate. The improvements can be seen both in those eating dark chocolate as well as those ingesting cocoa; however, it is important to note that most commercially available cocoas will not provide these health benefits because the flavonoids have been removed.
Cacao has been described as the “food of the Gods” by the ancient Maya. Scientists are finally realizing the beneficial aspects of chocolate in relation to physical, mental, and emotional health. One ounce of dark chocolate a day can improve a person’s vigor and energy by up to 67% and in many cases much higher percentages.
Chocolate also contains the amino acids tryptophan, phenylalanine, and tyrosine. All of these amino acids increase the serotonin levels in the brain which acts as an antidepressant. In addition to the amino acids listed above, chocolate has also been proven to act as a stimulant due to the substance theobromine.
Many people may be surprised to learn chocolate, when taken in small amounts and with higher levels of cocoa, can actually help you lose weight. If the antidepressant amino acids and stimulant theobromine can improve the way a person feels, they may be less likely to overeat. Chocolate can also act as an appetite suppressant which can speed up your metabolism.
When you learn about the science behind the love of chocolate, you may think you can eat it to your heart’s desire. As long as you’re eating darker chocolate with higher percentage of cocoa without the dairy fat and sugar, you can enjoy the taste and the health benefits.