Brits consume an average of 660,900 tonnes of chocolate a year. That means every person in the UK eats about three chocolate bars a week on average. That’s a lot of chocolate. Why do we love it so much? Chocolate adds to quality of life with its rich flavour, feel-good chemical boost for the brain, and positive health benefits.
Dark chocolate with close to 80 percent cocoa is high in nutrients, such as iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, and zinc. It has more antioxidant activity than blueberries. The caffeine in dark chocolate boosts cognitive functions. Some experts believe that dark chocolate lowers blood pressure, because of its ability to stimulate the arteries’ lining. This makes arteries relax, improving blood flow. In addition, dark chocolate decreases insulin resistance, a factor in diabetes and heart disease. In fact, studies have shown that those who consume high amounts of dark chocolate are at a reduced risk of heart disease. Finally, dark chocolate is great for the skin, improving the flow of blood to protect from sunburn. However, chocolate is not a substitute for medicine. Contact livi for medical advice.
The happy feeling that comes from eating chocolate comes from chemicals that interact with the brain. Would it surprise you to learn that chocolate has more than 300 natural chemicals? It’s true. Some of them trigger the release of neurotransmitters which send signals between neurons in the brain. Tryptophan is chemical in chocolate that prompts the brain to release serotonin, a chemical that makes us happy and lifts our mood. One neurotransmitter is phenylethylamine. It triggers feelings of excitement and love. Anandamide is a chemical in chocolate that activates dopamine production. Dopamine is a chemical that causes the extreme sensations of well being, like feeling high. Chocolate also releases endorphins which decrease feelings of pain and stress.
Chocolate stimulates the senses. There’s no other food that’s quite like it. High-quality chocolate is smooth. It literally melts in your mouth. This is one thing that heightens the anticipation when avid chocolate eaters unwrap the candy. Likely, the brain connects a present chocolate tasting with a pleasant memory, such as your mother making hot chocolate during the winter. The unique aroma is enough to drive relational eating that combines the present and past consumption experiences. The tongue has delicate receptors that send signals to the brain that you’ve dropped a piece of chocolate in your mouth. With all the chemical triggers that lift your mood when you eat chocolate, it’s no wonder that so many people like the taste.
So many Brits consume chocolate, it’s practically a national pastime. It is one of the most popular foods in the U.K., because it makes you feel good. Besides, the health benefits that come from eating dark chocolate are only surpassed by its exquisite taste.