Chocolate… The ultimate comfort food

Have you ever just taken a handful of M&M’s and eaten them all at once?  More than likely.  Ever wonder why they seem to just soothe you and calm you down?  Maybe.  Did you know chocolate boosts the brain chemicals serotonin and endorphin?  These chemicals produce a feeling of euphoria.  Another compound called anandamide has known calming properties.  The ultimate comfort food?  You bet!  A drug?  Maybe a little… only this type of drug is legal, has no with-drawl symptoms, and has no downside after the so-called “High” has passed.

Chocolate’s other ingredients include magnesium and chromium (known to regulate blood sugar); theobromine which stimulates the central nervous system and is an appetite stimulant; caffeine (in relatively small quantities); and tryptophan (an essential amino acid).

So what do we have… a sweet that helps take care of your blood sugar, helps your reaction time and thought processes, helps you feel more awake, calms you down and makes you feel good… sounds like a great type sweet to me.

Chocolate: The Healthy and the Unhealthy Treat

Chocolate is made from plants, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. These benefits are from flavonoids (known as Vitamin P), which act as antioxidants.  Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries). Flavonoids also help relax blood pressurethrough the production of nitric oxide, and balance certain hormones in the body.  Chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine, a mild mood elevator.  Cacao, the source of chocolate, contains antibacterial agents that fight tooth decay.  However, chocolate with a high sugar content will negate this benefit. Dark chocolate contains significantly higher amounts of cacao and lower amounts of sugar than white chocolate, making it more healthful.

Now before you go out and satisfy your sweet tooth there are a few downsides.

Chocolate may contribute to lower bone density.  Chocolate can trigger headaches in migraine sufferers.  Chocolate is a danger to pets (chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine, which animals are unable to digest).  Milk chocolate is high in calories, saturated fat and sugar.

Here’s a video that shows what the health benefits are.