We all love chocolate – in the form of ice cream, fondant, sweet bars or cocoa – the possibilities of how to serve it are endless, as are the flavour combinations. There are numerous places online where you can buy all sorts of chocolate including bars, fondant or even bulk chocolate. We reach for this sweet silky treat on so many occasions – when we are sad, or in moments of happiness to celebrate a success, when it’s cold and a hot drink is needed to make us warm. There are numerous moments in life that we actually spend with chocolate. But have you ever wondered what it is that makes us eat chocolate so willingly? Why does it have uplifting and relaxing properties? In other words: why does chocolate make us happy?
Below you’ll find a few tips and explanations.
The Ingredients Of Happiness
Many studies have investigated the positive influence of chocolate on our brain. Scientists wanted to find a reason for that. There are three major components that boost our mood and happiness. These are tryptophan, phenylethylalanine and theobromine. The first one, tryptophan, helps the brain produce serotonin – a hormone of happiness. The more serotonin our brain produces, the better and more energetic we feel. Serotonin is known as a natural mood stabiliser and when you lack it, you feel exhausted, sad and discouraged. The second ingredient, phenylethylalanine, is often called a ‘natural antidepressant’ as it also works for mood-boosting and uplifting. The last substance, theobromine, has a relaxing and soothing influence on the human brain. It’s responsible for the feeling of deep relaxation and slowing down. All these three chocolate ingredients work together perfectly and they’re the source of energy and good mood.
The Psychological Effect
Another group of scientists claim, though, that eating chocolate is a purely psychological effect. They believe that the act of chocolate-eating as such is a factor that helps in reducing stress and it evokes the feeling of relief. When we repeat the habit of reaching for something sweet in a stressful situation, our brain will learn this reaction and therefore, we will feel an urge to eat a bar or some ice cream every time we feel down. This is the psychological effect once discovered and described by behaviourists, such as Skinner and Pavlov and it may be another explanation for the ‘chocolate phenomenon’. To get to know more about psychological mechanisms connected with chocolate, read this article.
Society, Pop Culture And Chocolate
Another aspect of the ‘chocolate craze’ concerns the social traditions and pop culture. Chocolate is strongly rooted in our minds as a relaxing, uplifting substance. Even in books and movies, when characters feel a little bit down or simply have a bad day, they immediately reach out for something sweet. The same goes for commercials and advertisements where it is usually shown there as a mood booster too. People who advertise it are flawless, happy and … skinny. All of the media and social standards form our mindsets. We may not even know how and when we apply this way of thinking to our own lives. It’s a natural social process of adapting the behaviour, ideas and standards of others.
Dark Or Milk?
As we already know some reasons behind the magic of chocolate, it’s good to choose the type that will be the most beneficial for our mental wellbeing. Research shows that dark chocolate contains more of the uplifting ingredients and it’s also more palatable, which enhances the good properties. Apart from making us happy, dark chocolate apparently has plenty of other benefits for our health. It is a rich source of antioxidants and minerals which can keep you in good health and even reduce the risk of some diseases, such as heart attack or brain damage. Eating dark chocolate is then fully justified! To read more about its benefits, have a look here.
That doesn’t mean, though, that other chocolate products are totally unhealthy. If you want to make it more fit and light, try to put it in a dessert with lots of fruit or prepare a healthy smoothie with grains or oatmeal. There are plenty of ways in which we can use this ingredient in the kitchen to be both slim and happy. However, the important thing to keep in mind is the quality of the product you’re buying. The better-quality chocolate we eat, the better effects it has. So try to avoid ‘chocolate-like’ artificial products.
It seems that the theory about chocolate and happiness does have a lot of scientific evidence behind it. That’s good news for all the chocolate lovers out there, as they can freely indulge in that pleasant moment without feeling guilty. However, it’s good to stay reasonable and avoid treating food as the only coping mechanisms to get rid of stress and bad mood. If you feel you have serious troubles with your mood, try to look for other solutions to help it. If it’s only a temporary stage, though, a little of what you fancy never did anybody any harm!