Chocolate and Mental Well-Being

chocolate
Food Science

Habiba Ashraf

Fresh graduate from Food Processing Technology Department - Faculty of agriculture -Cairo University

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 How Chocolate Helps Mental Well-Being?

In this fast-paced world, finding simple things that make us feel good is crucial for our mental health. One delightful treat that has fascinated people for centuries is chocolate. But did you know that chocolate can actually have a positive impact on our well-being?

Lifting Mood and Reducing Stress

Eating chocolate can instantly improve our mood. It makes us feel good because it triggers the release of chemicals in our brains that bring us joy. Chocolate contains a lot of antioxidants that trigger endorphins, which are natural substances that make us feel happy. Dark chocolate, in particular, has special ingredients that can make us feel more relaxed and less stressed.

Boost Your Brain Power

Believe it or not, chocolate can also help our brains work better. The main ingredient in chocolate is cocoa, which can improve our brain function. Cocoa has flavonols and antioxidants that make our blood flow better to the brain. This can help us think more clearly and concentrate better. Chocolate also contains caffeine, which can make us more alert and focused.

Feeling Good Naturally

When we eat chocolate, our brains make a chemical called serotonin. This chemical helps us feel good and happy. So, chocolate can help us feel better when we’re sad or anxious. Chocolate has something called tryptophan, which is a main component of serotonin. When we eat chocolate, our bodies use tryptophan to produce more serotonin. This can make us feel calmer and more content. However, another compound, phenylethylamine (PEA) causes blood pressure and blood sugar to rise. We will feel better for a while, but a good feeling is likely to be followed by a sugar-induced drop in energy that leaves you more tired than before.

Optimal Blood Pressure

Moreover, dark chocolate has the potential to support the body and promote healthy blood flow and, consequently, maintain optimal blood pressure. Additionally, flavonols in dark chocolate function similarly to a low dose of aspirin, diminishing the blood’s tendency to clot. This effect contributes to a lowered risk of both stroke and heart attacks.

Conclusion
While chocolate isn’t a magical cure for mental health issues, it can certainly have a positive impact on our mood and well-being. Just remember to enjoy it in moderation, as too much chocolate can have unwanted effects. Also, choose one with as close to 70% (bittersweet) cocoa as possible and fewer ingredients.

 

References:

Kansas State University, The Health Benefits of Chocolate

Nehlig A. The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013 Mar;75(3):716-27. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04378.x. PMID: 22775434; PMCID: PMC3575938.

https://www.portagepath.org/cocoa-comfort-how-chocolate-sweetens-mental-well-being/

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