Americans consume 3 billion pounds of chocolate a year. So we ask ourselves if we are eating the good kind? The most beneficial substances of chocolate are found in cacao solids. From all the choices of chocolate that we encounter when trying to buy that perfect chocolate bar, dark chocolate is the healthiest choice. Out of white, milk and dark chocolate the latter one contains the most amount of cacao solids, which then contains the most amount of beneficial substances. Today, we talk about these different substances that help boost your mood.
Anandamide, also known as the bliss molecule is found at very high concentrations in cocoa. Cocoa is actually the main food source of this compound. Anandamide is known to enhance our moods since it creates a feeling of euphoria.
Cacao is one of the few food sources that contain a mood-enhancing compound called phenylethylamine (PEA). This chemical triggers the release of endorphins and pleasurable opium-like neurochemicals. PEA is sometimes referred to as the love drug because it releases the chemicals that are also released when we fall in love. A study conducted showed that eating chocolate had a similar effect on the heart rate and brain as kissing does.
Another compound found in chocolate is referred to as the feel good brain chemical. Serotonin is derived from the amino acid tryptophan which is a neurotransmitter of happiness and positive mood. Eating chocolate can boost the brain levels of calming hormones and restore feelings of well-being, especially when women PMS since their serotonin levels drop dramatically. When more serotonin circulates in the brain, more antioxidants are released making you feel better overall.
Magnesium is a mineral that should be incorporated into everyone’s diet as it is beneficial for one’s overall health and mood. Cacao also contains a high concentration of magnesium. This mineral can suppress the release of the stress hormone known as cortisol. By doing this, magnesium is able to reduce levels of stress which makes you more relaxed and improves mood. Chocolate can therefore improve one’s depression and anxiety symptoms in order to make us feel more content.
There are so many other substances found in cacao that can improve one’s overall health and we all know that when we are healthy we are also more pleased with ourselves. Chocolate contains flavonoids which improve blood flow to the brain enhancing our memory and learning capacity. Cacao also contains over 700 compounds of antioxidants which is more that in other common superfoods. These antioxidants help improve blood circulation, which then reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and bad cholesterol.
Be sure to incorporate raw cacao in the form of beans or nibs into your diet. It is so easy to just mix into a smoothie or even eat on its own. Finally, it is recommended to eat chocolate with 70% or more cacao in order to benefit from all of the healthy chemicals and minerals found in chocolate.