It’s no secret that chocolate makes people happy. In fact, many people refer to chocolate as “comfort food.” But what you may not know is that there are scientific reasons why eating chocolate can improve your mood. Here we’ll explore the ways that chocolate can help to brighten your day and make you feel happier.
Its Chemical Compounds
Chocolate contains several compounds that are known to have mood-boosting effects. These include tryptophan, phenylethylamine, and serotonin. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps the body produce serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in regulating mood and happiness. Low levels of serotonin are linked to depression. Different types of chocolate, as seen on their website, have different effects based on the added ingredients. Additionally, Phenylethylamine is another compound found in chocolate that has mood-lifting effects. Phenylethylamine is also found in coffee and wine. It’s thought to work by increasing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which are both associated with feelings of happiness and pleasure.
It May Reduce Stress Levels
In addition to its mood-boosting compounds, chocolate also contains other substances that can help to reduce stress levels. These include magnesium and flavonoids. Magnesium is a mineral that’s known to have relaxation-promoting effects. It’s thought to work by reducing the activity of the nervous system. Flavonoids are antioxidants that have been shown to help lower blood pressure and heart rate in response to stress.
It Can Be Good for Your Heart
Eating chocolate may also be good for your heart health. Studies have shown that eating chocolate regularly can help lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels. Chocolate is also thought to reduce the risk of developing blood clots. All of these effects can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. For example, one study found that men who ate chocolate regularly were 37% less likely to die from a heart attack than those who didn’t eat chocolate.
It May Help Your Brain Function
Chocolate may also have benefits for brain health. One study found that people who regularly ate chocolate had a lower risk of developing cognitive decline and dementia. Other studies have shown that chocolate can improve cognitive function in the short term, including memory, reaction time, and attention span. For example, one study found that people who ate chocolate performed better on memory tests than those who didn’t eat chocolate. Chocolate is also a good source of several important nutrients, including iron, copper, and manganese. These nutrients are essential for maintaining good health. For example, iron is needed for carrying oxygen in the blood, and copper is involved in energy production. Manganese is necessary for proper brain and nerve function.
It Can Give You an Energy Boost
If you’re feeling tired, eating chocolate may give you the energy boost you need to get through your day. Chocolate contains caffeine and other stimulants, such as theobromine, that can help to increase alertness and wakefulness. However, it’s important to moderate since too much chocolate can lead to jitters and anxiety. For example, a small bar of chocolate contains about 30 mg of caffeine, while a cup of coffee has about 95 mg. Additionally, chocolate also contains small amounts of theobromine, which is a stimulant similar to caffeine. However, theobromine is weaker than caffeine and has less of an effect on the central nervous system.
Effect of Cocoa Percentage
The percentage of cocoa in a piece of chocolate refers to the number of cocoa beans that are present in the product. The higher the percentage, the more cocoa beans are present and the darker the chocolate will be. Dark chocolate has a higher concentration of mood-boosting compounds than milk chocolate. For example, one study found that dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% had more than twice the amount of phenylethylamine as milk chocolate. Cocoa also contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants that can help to reduce stress levels. Also, theobromine, another compound found in cocoa, has been shown to improve blood flow and help to keep the heart healthy. In a study of healthy adults, those who ate dark chocolate with a 70% cocoa content daily for two weeks had lower levels of stress hormones than those who ate milk chocolate.
Of course, one of the best reasons to eat chocolate is that it simply tastes good. And when you’re feeling down, enjoying a delicious treat can be a great way to boost your mood. So next time you’re feeling blue, reach for a piece of chocolate. You may just find that it helps to improve your mood.