Chocolate is made of the seeds of Theobroma cacao, which means ‘food of the gods’. Therefore chocolate was long romantically related to as ‘food of the gods’. Aztecs used to make drinks from the seeds of that tree. They believed that Theobroma cacao seeds gave them unusual powers, wisdom and fertility. In 1528 chocolate was introduced to Europe but it took a few centuries until 19th century when cocoa powder, milk and cocoa butter were mixed to form a now known form of chocolate.
Nowadays, there are various types of chocolate and the consumption of it is very huge, in the USA alone a typical person consumes 11.5 pounds of chocolate every year. People love chocolate because of its flavor, taste and texture.
To some it may sound ridiculous that such daily consumed food as chocolate could be described as addictive. However, scientists have shown the addictive effect of it on people. So, if you consume 8 or more chocolate bars a week and define yourself as a chocoholic you may be actually not exaggerating.
When do people actually start thinking that chocolate eating is a problem? It is when they cannot control the craving for this sweet substance. Also, they might feel they are addicted to it when they cannot avoid consuming chocolate even though they wish to. Others may feel guilty because they eat too much of cocoa containing products. Weight gain usually is not associated with chocolate consumption and addiction.
The effect of chocolate
A lot of studies and research have been carried out in order to find out the real effect of chocolate on people. Scientists are still trying to evaluate which form of addiction — physical or psychological — consumption of this sweet and tasty substance causes. In addition to that, research data have identified many substances that may actually cause an addictive effect of chocolate on people.
First of all, chocolate contains substances that are known to cause pleasure feelings in the brain. These substances, like theobromide, anandamin and tryptophan, trigger brain to release mood enhancing chemicals. Therefore people who eat chocolate may experience feelings of euphoria, pleasure and relaxation.
Other scientists have identified that chocolate contains substances that imitate marijuana effects. They claim that chocolate consumers may basically feel ‘high’ just like after having smoked marijuana.
All these substances may be related to women’s craving for chocolate before or during menstrual period. It increases pleasure stimuli and women feel happier after they have eaten chocolate. Some scientists say that the reason why women crave for this type of food especially during the days of menstruation is because they then lack magnesium which is found in large amounts in chocolate products. Others explain that the craving for chocolate is larger in women who consider it to be a dangerous and forbidden food.
Additionally, chocolate was found to have stress relieving characteristics, therefore, people under a lot of stress may be more addicted to it than others. During stress the amount of chocolate eaten may increase. There are people who may eat 15 chocolate bars a day.
People who are or claim to have chocolate addiction feel discomfort and sadness when they stop eating it. This is the reason why they continue eating the substance. Chocolate contains endorphins that cause pleasurable feelings, so when the consumption of chocolate is discontinued, people will logically feel sad and unhappy.
Chocolate, consumed in small amounts, can be a pleasurable substance for your mouth and brain. It could be a lovely present for your loved one on a special occasion. However, too much of anything could kill you, as some may say. It is the same with chocolate. Small amounts are innocent, large amounts are addictive. Watch out!