Why Does Chocolate Make People Happy? Question: Why Does Chocolate Make People Happy? Answer: There are so many reasons why chocolate makes people happy that it s difficult to know where to start, but let s begin with the simpler explanations. Think about the last time you ate a piece of chocolate. Did it make you happy? The chances are that it did. Chocolate makes people happy because it tastes good and provides a moment s respite from busy, and often stressed-out, lives. For some, chocolate is a guilty pleasure, and we are firm believers in the old adage that forbidden fruit is always the most satisfying. Just seeing chocolate, or inhaling its wonderful aroma, has quickened the beat of many a chocolate-lover s heart. But the true explanation for why chocolate makes people happy is chemical in nature. There are over 300 naturally-occurring chemicals in chocolate, and some of them can affect the human brain via the release of particular neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are exactly what they sound like; they send signals back and forth between neurons. Certain neurotransmitters can be responsible for your emotions and the way you feel.
What does any of this have to do with chocolate? Everything, it turns out. Eating chocolate releases several neurotransmitters that have positive effects on human feelings (that is, they make people happy). One of these is phenylethlyamine, which causes alertness and a degree of excitement, quickens the pulse rate, and makes you happy. Phenylethylamine is sometimes called Бthe love drugБ, because it arouses feelings similar to those that occur when one is in love. Another neurotransmitter, serotonin, is a mood-lifter, as well. One chemical that causes the release of serotonin into the brain is tryptophan, found in (wait for it! ) chocolate. Among the fats in chocolate is one called anadamide, named after the Sanskrit word for БblissБ. Anandamide activates a receptor which causes dopamine production. Dopamine causes a feeling of intense well-being that people often associate with being high. THC, the chemical in marijuana responsible for its БhighБ, activates the same receptor as anadamide. Note, however, that the anadamide in chocolate does not work the same way as THC; you will not get the same kind of БhighБ from chocolate as you will from marijuana, as you d have to eat so much chocolate that you d make yourself sick long before you got any serious buzz.
Finally, eating chocolate releases endorphins into the brain. Endorphins are known to decrease levels of both stress and pain. All of these reasons and chemicals combine to make people happy when they eat chocolate. In the future, if anyone gives you grief about eating chocolate, just smile and assure them you re attempting to confirm scientific research about neurotransmitters!
Scientists have confirmed what deep down, we already knew: dark chocolate makes you feel better. WhilePanecdotally, dark chocolate can do wonders for your mood, this is one of the first studies (or even the first) to study the relationship between chocolate and mood enhancement. PMatthew Pase from in Australia was looking at a class of nutrients called polyphenols,Pa structural class of mainly natural, but also synthetic organic chemicals. They were focusing on how polyphenols affect the cognitive capacity of participants. Seventy-two healthy men and women aged 40-65 years took part in the study, receiving a dark chocolate drink mix with 500mg, 250mg or 0mg of cocoa polyphenols, all presented in identical packages.
While there was no significant difference in cognitive abilities, researchers noticed a mood improvement in participants who received higher quantities of chocolate. PSpecifically,Pthose who drank the high dose concentration of cocoa polyphenols reported greater calmness and contentedness than either of the other drink mixes. At this point, it has to be said that small quantities of dark chocolate are sufficient for the effect eating more will just make you put on some weight. Furthermore,Pchocolates health benefits have been. For example, it has been claimed that chocolate is an aphrodisiac, but there is no research to back that claim up. Even the effect of chocolate on body weight is unclear. A concern is that excessive consumption of dark chocolate may promote high calorie intake and weight gain,Pbut that is still debated. I guess the takeaway is pretty simple: chocolate can help boost your mood, but don t abuse. This research was published in the. Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!