Chocolate and Brain Chemistry

There is a lot of talk today about brain chemistry and its effects on our choices, decisions, and relationships. So what about that addictive favorite: chocolate? Chocolate does have an effect on brain chemistry, but overall cocoa by itself has a fairly neutral effect on the brain. The main negative effects are due to caffeine and theobromine present in chocolate, both of which act as stimulants. Eating chocolate is also thought to result in the release of endorphins, which make you feel good, but which also result in raising your dopamine level. What this means is, if you are a high dopamine person, be aware that eating chocolate may affect your ability to sit still and concentrate, so it’s best to eat it when you are able to get out and exercise shortly thereafter. If you are not a high dopamine person, it still may work to keep you awake at night, so it’s best not to eat chocolate too close to bedtime. Chocolate with a high sugar content (white & milk chocolate) can also affect your moods in the same way other simple carbohydrates do by messing with your blood sugar, so it’s best to avoid types with a high sugar content.

On the upside, chocolate may also have several beneficial effects on brain chemistry as well. The Aztecs viewed chocolate as an aphrodisiac and we now know that several components of chocolate are responsible for that effect, including theobromine and phenylethylamine. Another substance in chocolate known as anandamide promotes a feeling of well-being. Eating chocolate may also work to increase your serotonin level, which is helpful if you are a low serotonin person.

So overall, a small amount (1 – 2 ounces) of chocolate every day is not harmful, and may even be helpful, as long as you do your homework to identify a type that has a high cocoa content and is low in sugar and fat, which is usually dark chocolate.

So learn to like dark chocolate and then the problem may be in stopping with the 1-2 ounces!

Taken from an article by http://www.robertsoninstitute.org

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~ by transformativethoughts on May 4, 2010.

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