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There is a reason why biting into a piece of chocolate causes some of us to purr and enjoy a boost in mood.
The reason is not the divinely delicious texture and taste, although that is why most of us eat it. The ingredient in chocolate that elevates our mood is called anandamide.
Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that our brain manufactures. It temporarily blocks feelings of depression and pain. Not only does chocolate produce this uplifting compound, it provides additional chemicals that sustain the mood-enhancing effects of anandamide.
It seems appropriate that the word "anandamide" is derived from the Sanskrit word for "bliss." Yet this neurotransmitter does more than help us bliss out. It is also produced in parts of the brain crucial for higher thought processes, movement control and memory.
Dark chocolate is loaded with chemicals that provide health benefits.
Although many people like milk chocolate, it does not offer the same health benefits as the dark variety. Milk binds with some of the healthy compounds in chocolate, preventing the body from absorbing them. Milk chocolates also have a high sugar content and frequently contain unhealthy additives.
Unadulterated dark chocolate is best for your health, but the front of a chocolate wrapper can be deceiving. Be sure to check the list of ingredients:
To enjoy chocolate’s health benefits, eating it in moderation is key. One square of dark chocolate a day – about one ounce – is recommended. The best time to enjoy a piece is after lunch or dinner. Eating some fruit before having the chocolate will help satisfy your sweet tooth.
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