Dark Chocolate Benefits - Good Mood and Happiness

January 11, 2020

Dark Chocolate Benefits - Good Mood and Happiness

     The craving... then comes the unwrapping, the look, the feel, and the snap. Now you smell the aromas and take a bite and savor it, letting it melt in your mouth slowly and embracing all the fantastic flavors. That is the precious moment of eating a piece of chocolate. I know all of us chocolate lovers dream about every day, why wouldn't we? It is the perfect reward for hard work. But what if the dark chocolate benefits go beyond that experience? In this article, we explore the scientific link between chocolate and a good mood.

     A couple of weeks ago, we hosted a chocolate tasting paired with wine in Aventura, Florida. It was incredibly enriching to share the knowledge learned over the years studying this bean-to-bar movement. Additionally, we discussed a few of the dark chocolate benefits for our health and the world. One aspect I treasure the most about this experience is the moment described above.

     We savored several pieces of chocolate and shared all our ideas, whatever came to our minds. The aromas and flavors each of us felt or discovered were fascinating. But also, the different preferences, and how we can be distinct but joined by a common factor: Chocolate. An experience that made us appreciate two engaging hours living #TheGoodnessOfLife.

     If that singular moment of tasting chocolate sounds like pure indulgence, I love the fact that chocolate itself can make you feel joy after you eat it. The truth is that happiness felt after this sweet treat is part of the dark chocolate benefits supported by science.

     Is there something in chocolate that will make you feel happy, eased, joyful, and energized? Yes! Cacao beans contain substances that promote the making of hormones and chemicals in the brain; these compounds are responsible for pleasure and "feeling good" sensation. 

     Which are the most relevant elements present in cacao beans? There are many, but listed below are the ones related to the topic we're talking about today:

  • Caffeine and theobromine: they are similar and work stimulating the nervous system, increasing heart rate, and boosting energy.
  • Tryptophan: is an amino acid needed to produce serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates and controls mood, happiness, appetite, memory, and sexual desire.
  • Phenylethylamine: a chemical that is known for elevating mood and giving a buzz similar to being in love, also improves focus and attention.
  • Anandamide: it's a substance needed for the neural generation of motivation and pleasure.

     The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published a review article about the neuroprotective effects of cacao flavanols and its influence on cognitive performance, as well as mood. It concluded that chocolate interacts with neurotransmitter systems such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins (contained in cacao and chocolate). This interaction contributes positively to appetite, reward, and mood regulation, but that it could also be related to some calming effects when our bodies are under stressful situations. Another interesting note in this article is the fact that chocolate does not seem to interact with the brain area associated with addiction, so no fear of becoming addicted.

     Another study conducted by the department of psychology from the University of Würzburg, Germany, examined 48 normal-weight and healthy men and women. They looked at the effects of eating a piece of palatable chocolate compared to not so delicious chocolate or drinking water on negative mood states. There was a short (3 minutes) but notable improvement in the negative mood state in those who ate palatable chocolate.

     That same author studied thirty-seven healthy, normal-weight women to see if there were any emotional changes after eating chocolate, apple, or nothing. Both chocolate and apples reduced hunger and elevated mood. However, the effects of the chocolate were stronger. Additionally, eating chocolate was followed by joy! And, in some women, by guilt, which the authors attribute to pre-existing biases.

     It is essential to recognize that in most cases, researchers use regular commercial chocolate, and these dark chocolate benefits will probably be stronger in craft chocolate. Why? Because those preserve the majority of the natural qualities of cacao beans with less processing, and as a result, saving more of the beneficial compounds present in fine flavor cacao.

     During our last tasting event, the Ritual bar made with cacao from Perú is one of those chocolate bars that lift your mood from start to finish. Initially, unwrapping a beautiful and sustainable packaging made with cardboard and paper. Then, the taste of award-winning chocolate (2018 Bronze at The Academy of Chocolate). Finally, time to enjoy the dark chocolate benefits of its smooth and flavor-rich, floral, and herbal accents with hints of toasted peanuts.


     In summary:

  • Chocolate can be the element to make you have a unique and happy experience.
  • Cacao, the source of chocolate, has an adequate amount of good chemicals linked with positive reactions in our bodies.
  • Less processed bean-to-bar chocolates have a better chance of giving you an energy boost and improve your mood.

What are you waiting for? Get your dark chocolate benefits now!

 

Ramón E. Martínez

 

 

References 

https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04378.x

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17597253

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16546294




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