It’s not just psychological and it’s not just because it tastes so good – chocolate can really be addictive. It contains a mood enhancing substance called phenethylamine. Even experimental, alcoholic rats will forego some alcohol for chocolate, given the choice. Chocolate also contains the stimulants caffeine & theobromine, so along with phenethylamine, it boosts levels of one of the body’s mood-enhancing chemicals, dopamine. Researchers have found that dopamine triggers a chain reaction producing hormones that make women interested in sex. Another major ingredient in chocolate is sugar, which lifts mood, energy & concentration temporarily, before it sends you crashing down again. So, if you’re tired or stressed out, it’s not surprising that you would crave chocolate.
If your chocolate cravings have spiraled out of control, you should consider weaning yourself off it. Replace with healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts, a yoghurt or a muesli bar. And to help stabilize your energy levels supplement 200mcg of the mineral chromium a day.
But can chocolate be good for me?
Chocoholics will rejoice to know that their passion does indeed contain substances that not only make you feel good, but that are also good for you. But this isn’t a signal for ripping into a big bar of the stuff.
It’s well known that chocolate contains caffeine & theobromine, addictive stimulants that raise your energy & give you a mental lift, and sugar, which boosts the mood altering hormone serotonin as well as dopamine. Along with the flavour, this accounts for chocolate’s popularity. But there is more. Chocolate contains magnesium, and there is a theory that women get premenstrual chocolate cravings to correct deficiencies in this mineral. Scientists have also found that chocolate, especially the dark variety, contains antioxidants vital for protecting against pollution and heart disease. All this said, I still wouldn’t start calling chocolate a health food. Fruits & vegetables give you better value for antioxidants, and the energy boost chocolate provides is short-lived & leaves you craving more. It’s good for the soul to have the odd indulgence, so keep it as just that.