You crave it. I crave it. We all crave it. I’m talking about chocolate, a sweet that’s in a category by itself. But what is so special about chocolate? Why do lovers send a heart-shaped box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, instead of strawberry pastries or licorice whips? Is it simply the rich and creamy texture and delicious taste? After all, chocolate has over 500 flavor components, more than twice the amount found in strawberry and licorice combined. I took this as an opportunity to do some difficult research that included eating a lot of chocolate. While I was eating squares and truffles by the pound and finding myself happier, other researchers with degrees and funding, such as Danielle Piomelli, were publishing scientific explanations for why we love and crave this confection. Danielle found that chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a natural substance that increases the activity of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that stimulate the same reaction in the body as falling in love. And there is more! Another neurotransmittercalled anandamide has been isolated in chocolate. This one stimulates feelingsof euphoria and changes one’s perception of time. The good news keeps coming: there is two other brain chemicals found in chocolate that inhibit the natural breakdown of anandamide. This means that these euphoric feelings will last longer when we eat chocolate.
Posted on Wed, July 15, 2009
by Ms. Dolphina