Seriously, is there anything better than chocolate? Satisfy your sweet cravings, it has been touted as having super healthy benefits, and it makes you feel happy.
Although I am a strong supporter of fruits and vegetables, they certainly have a lot to compete with when it comes to chocolate.
While we’re lucky enough to have our pick of chocolate out there, chocolate was once considered “a highly valued luxury item among the elite of the Mayan and Aztec upper classes.” Aztec rulers considered cocoa beans as valuable as gold. They even used cocoa beans to pay taxes!
If only that were the case now, right? So how did this bean become such a valuable commodity around the world?
Well, because of what it does to us and how it makes us feel. Today we are going to analyze exactly why we are so passionate about chocolate and discuss what it is actually doing to our bodies when we eat it.
Benefits of Eating Chocolate
After The First 10 Minutes
You’re probably used to gobbling a whole candy bar in under 10 minutes, and while this isn’t something to brag about, it’s not entirely your fault either.
You see, when your brain tastes a very tasty food, like chocolate, your need to eat more increases dramatically.
Food definitely affects our emotions. When you eat chocolate, your brain begins to release those “good” chemicals, like dopamine, that really make you feel happy while you eat.
There is a science behind giving chocolate to your loved ones. When we eat chocolate, our brain releases dopamine and endorphins, which are the same hormones that are released when we are happy in love.
Chocolate also contains tryptophan, the essential amino acid responsible for feeling calm, relaxed, and ready for a good night’s sleep. But tryptophan also helps the brain make serotonin, a mood-regulating neurotransmitter known as the “happiness chemical.”
After 40 Minutes
If you’re feeling a little energized after the candy bar, you can thank the sugar for the rush, but don’t forget the caffeine.
Caffeine is naturally present in cocoa beans, so just a little bit of chocolate contains a bit of the stimulant. And after 40 minutes, the caffeine begins to take effect.
In fact, a Hershey specialty dark chocolate bar has 31 milligrams of caffeine, which is almost as much as a can of Coke.
This is usually not enough to affect most people, but if you are especially sensitive to caffeine, you can avoid eating dark chocolate before bed.
After 60 Minutes
Depending on how sensitive your body is to caffeine (and the type of chocolate you are enjoying), you may be feeling the diuretic properties beginning about an hour later.
How To Eat Chocolate For Your Health
If you want to get the maximum nutrition from the calories in chocolate, generally go for dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa.
This will give you a healthy dose of flavonoids, which are part of the polyphenolic group of antioxidants.
But if you prefer milk chocolate or chocolate bars, don’t feel bad about including them in your diet in moderation.
There is no evidence that small indulgences, such as a single Twix bar, harm your health if you eat an overall healthy diet. The key is moderation.
Get at least 80-90% of your calories from minimally processed whole foods and you may make room for a few treats.
What is your opinion on chocolate? Is there anything else you would like to share? Let me know in the comments below!