When was the last time you said, “I need my chocolate fix?” There are probably women out there who haven’t done this, who haven’t turned to a piece of chocolate, a Mars bar, or a bowl of triple fudge brownie ice cream in a time of distress or heartbreak; but, I would dare say many of us have succumbed to the craving.
But does this dose of chocolate do what we believe it does?
The Benefits of Chocolate Theory
There are many theories or guesses about the benefits of chocolate. For example, "Aztecs and Mayans believed chocolate passed on knowledge and power…” (www.cbc.ca). Today’s society has caught us up in the perception that chocolate improves our moods, increases the pleasure of sex, and helps our skin look younger and our brains function better.
Science has yet to really find any significant connections between chocolate consumption and any prolonged positive effects.
What’s in the Chocolate?
“Chocolate is made up of about 300 chemicals…such as caffeine, theobromine, and phenyethylamine” (www.cbc.ca). Caffeine boosts energy. Theobromine stimulates the heart and nervous system. Phenyethylamine acts like an amphetamine and simulates the feeling of being in love. A study conducted by the University of Michigan found that chocolate “causes the brain to release b-endorphin, a naturally occurring chemical similar to opium. The opiates dull pain and increase a feeling of well-being” (www.cbc.ca).
However, for these chemicals to have such a significant effect on the body, they have to be taken in much higher quantities than are present in chocolate. To get the same caffeine boost as from a cup of coffee, you would have to eat more than 12 chocolate bars. It would take about 25 pounds of chocolate to feel the b-endorphin buzz.
One study in Australia, while determining that depressed women craved chocolate more than depressed men, also showed that people who suffered from atypical depression (more prone to over-eating and over-sleeping when under stress) claimed that eating chocolate helped.