Chemicals in Chocolate That Make You Feel Better

There are reasons why many call chocolate as the ‘love drug’, the ‘happiness drug’ and the ‘pleasure drug’. These names have nothing to do with marketing but more about the chemical inside it. list of chemicals in chocolate have been shown to affect the brain and body in a myriad of pleasurable and positive ways.

Countries make strict lists of chemicals in food to guarantee their public consumption. Therefore, there are countries such as Europe bans certain chemicals, but other countries didn’t. Countries have different strictness when it comes to a food ingredient. There are many banned food additives in many countries that people need to be aware of. However, things are a little bit different from chocolate.

Chemicals in Chocolate That Make You Feel Better

While small amounts of each chemical in chocolate may not have profound effects on the brain, the combination of them in a chocolate bar is a winning combination to produce happy feelings. Let look at some of the chemicals in chocolate that makes you feel better.

1. Theobromine

Theobromine is an alkaloid (an organic compound contains nitrogen). It’s also a common chemical substance in tea, coffee, and the kola nut. However, it is said that chocolate is the richest known source.

Interestingly, there is no bromine in theobromine—the name comes from the word cacao tree, Theobroma. It means as ‘god drink’ (‘theo’ meaning ‘god’ and ‘broma’ meaning ‘drink’). Historically, Mayan people thought chocolate was the drink of choice for their gods. The ‘ine’ on the end is due to chemistry naming such as other chemicals names like caffeine, nicotine, and morphine.

Theobromine has the same stimulant effects on the human brain as caffeine and nicotine when given in equal doses. This contributes to that lifting feeling you get from eating chocolate. Therefore, theobromine is not suitable for animals. You cant give chocolate to your dogs. There is also other food for humans that are dangerous for dogs due to their chemical compounds.

2. Anandamide

Anandamide is a cannabinoid substance that eases the brain.  it has the same functions of the brain as THC (the major psychoactive active ingredient in cannabis). The name is from a Sanskrit word means “bliss”. Anandamide activates a receptor that causes dopamine production. Dopamine is among the chemicals that makes you high. However, that the anandamide in chocolate does not work the same way as THC.

You will not experience the same kind of “high” from chocolate as you will from marijuana. You will have to eat 25 bar of chocolate before feeling high and that is if you didn’t get sick. Anandamide is a natural chemical from the human brain and small quantities are also found in chocolate. In addition, anandamide can reduce anxiety in clinical trials. It is more reason to much on chocolate when you are feeling overwhelmed.

3. Phenylethylamine (PEA)

Feeling romantic? Maybe it’s the phenylethylamine talking. The exciting feeling after eating chocolates could be the effects of phenylethylamine. It is a chemical that stimulates the brain’s pleasure centers and released when we fall in love. There are many chemicals related to love, and this substance in one of them.

Do you know what food contains the highest concentrations of phenylethylamine? Yep—chocolate. Most of the phenylethylamine element from chocolate got lost on digestion quickly. It is so fast, that it is unlikely to have any significant aphrodisiac effects on the brain. Yes, that’s the chemicals in chocolate that make you feel better.

4. Sucrose

Most chocolate bars contain a sugar or sucrose in them. It reduces chocolate bitterness. Dark chocolate generally has about 30 percent of sugar and milk chocolate upwards of 50-60 percent. Sucrose is a simple carbohydrate that when we eat them, the enzymes in our intestines split into glucose and fructose in a 1:1 ratio.

When sweet hit our taste buds they send a chemical message to our brain. It tells our brain we have just eaten something sweet and triggers the release of chemicals associated with reward and pleasure. It gives a pleasing sensation that makes us better.

Even dark chocolate has a high percentage of sugar that stimulate the hypothalamus. It is a part of our brain that is responsible for pleasing sensations. When you eat chocolate to improve your mood, the pleasing sensations distract you from whatever the reasons that is making you upset.

5. Tryptophan

This substance is among chemicals in chocolate with a small quantity. It is a kind of amino acid element that induced the brain to make serotonin. It is a well-known neurotransmitter that can produce feelings of happiness. However, the small portion has very little effect on human, if you compare it to other chemicals. 

6. N-acylethanolamine

Chocolate also contains unsaturated N-acylethanolamine. These chemicals in chocolate may be responsible for activating cannabinoid receptors or an increase of endocannabinoid levels in the brain. This substance has some similarities with to Anandamide.

It gives a relaxing feeling and heightened sensitivity. It is quite possible that this substance has a mild aphrodisiac effect. However, more research needs to support this idea, due to its small quantity in chocolate.

7. Endorphins

Although you might not enjoy it while you’re working out your body releases endorphins that stimulate the brain and make you feel happier.  Therefore, some people struggle to feel happy either by exercising or eating chocolate. It has the same chemicals that make you feel better.

Chemicals in chocolate mostly have a happy feeling effect. Endorphins in chocolate do exactly the same. Endorphins do not only make you feel better, but they can also reduce your feelings of pain and stress.

There are many chemicals that can affect your brain, and chocolate is the best example of it. Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food, a standby in times of stress, and also a reliable source of consolation. Research is continuing all the time, and experts have established many chemicals in chocolate is good for the heart, circulation, and brain. Many have used chocolate as a comfort without knowing the reasons.