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Why does chocolate make you happy?

This article explains why chocolate always leaves you with a smile on your face.

Amira Menon

Close your eyes, take a bite of chocolate, and feel the happiness start to bubble up inside of you. No matter your identity, where you come from, or who you are, everyone, everywhere loves chocolate. Something about the taste, sweetness and texture just seems to put you on cloud 9.

But what really is the cause behind this desirable feeling that chocolate seems to give us, the scientific reason behind it all? Why does chocolate make us happy?

A study in 1996 showed that chocolate caused the release of endorphins in the brains of American women, making them feel happy. This sweet treat does contain a number of compounds associated with mood-lifting chemicals in the brain- from cacao, the main ingredient found in chocolate.

One prominent reason why chocolate makes us happy is tryptophan. In our bodies, tryptophan is used to produce the mood-elevating substance serotonin, the happiness hormone. The sugar in the chocolate also plays a role in this process. The insulin released in response to the sugar facilitates the journey of the tryptophan to the brain.

But that is not the only miracle substance to be found in cacao. In addition to stimulating caffeine and caffeine-like theobromine, it also contains phenylethylamine, a natural antidepressant that also is released by the body when you find new love.

Because these substances are only present in chocolate in small quantities, experts cannot guarantee their direct mood enhancing effect. Instead, the pleasure derived from eating chocolate may be psychological rather than biological.

So next time you feel sad, grab a bar of chocolate, and let it whisk you away into a magical world of happiness!

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