The sweet science of chocolate
- a food derived from the roasted and ground seeds of the tropical cacao tree (Theobroma cacao).
What is it about chocolate? Our love affair with chocolate has been undeniable ever since the ancient Aztecs first began cultivating cacao trees. They believed that the cacao seed was a gift bestowed upon them by Quetzalcoatl, their god of wisdom. The Aztecs valued cacao beans more than gold and used them not just in beverages, but as currency, too.
Chocolate is made from the fruit, or pods of the cacao tree. Each pod contains several dozen cream-colored beans embedded in a white pulp. The beans are dried, roasted and “conched” to produce raw cocoa.
The chocolate we enjoy today is a far cry from the revered but bitter beverage it was in the past. Beloved by the European aristocracy, chocolate eventually became a fashionable drink served in parlors and “chocolate houses.” Not just a guilty pleasure, chocolate has risen to stardom as an antioxidant-rich superfood. We hear that dark chocolate is good for us, but let’s face it—most of us eat chocolate because it just makes us happy.
Now we know why.
The bliss molecule
Science shows us that chocolate actually makes us happy on a neurological level, and it’s all due to one tiny molecule. Chocolate contains a very high level of the neurotransmitter Anandamide, dubbed the “bliss molecule”. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid our bodies produce to boost our mood and create feelings of bliss as well as to interact with our Endocannabinoid System. Our system generally breaks down anandamide quickly, but because chocolate contains powerful chemicals that inhibit the natural breakdown of our cherished bliss molecule, we feel happier for longer when we eat chocolate.
Chocolate also contains high levels of antioxidants. These molecular superstars combat damage caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that react with and harm other molecules. The resulting “oxidative stress” accelerates the aging of our body and mind and contributes to chronic disease such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease and cancer.
Antioxidants include flavonols, polyphenols, and phytochemicals. These compounds have been shown to have a significant impact on heart health, improved blood flow to the heart and brain helping to decrease blood pressure as well as improve cognitive ability. Chocolate, not surprisingly, boasts a flavanol content that is significantly greater than many fruits dubbed “super fruits” such as acai berry, cranberries and blueberries, making it a fantastic source for these antioxidant dynamos.
Polyphenols are another of class powerful antioxidative compounds. They balance the body’s cholesterol levels by helping to increase the “good” HDL levels while simultaneously lowering the “bad” LDL. Higher intake of polyphenols has not only been shown to contribute to a lower body mass index (BMI), but also has a clear impact on overall insulin sensitivity as well by decreasing insulin resistance, which ultimately helps lower the risks for type 2 diabetes.
A delicious powerhouse that makes us feel happier and healthier? The ancient Aztecs were onto something—chocolate truly is a gift from the gods.
FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION (FDA) DISCLOSURE
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always check with your physician before starting a new dietary supplement program. The testimonials presented apply only to the individuals depicted, cannot be guaranteed, and should not be considered typical. Most work-place drug screens and tests target delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and do not detect the presence of Cannabidiol (CBD) or other legal natural hemp based constituents. However, studies have shown that eating hemp foods and oils can cause confirmed positive results when screening urine and blood specimens. Accordingly, if you are subject to any form of drug testing or screening, we recommend (as does the United States Armed Services) that you DO-NOT ingest our products. Prior to consuming these products consult with your healthcare practicioner, drug screeningtesting company or employer.