Here is why we all love chocolate

Team HTV Aug 09 2015

Be it birthdays, anniversaries, functions, parties, New Year or even casual days, chocolates have found their way into every occasion as a gift or a source of celebration.

This is because chocolates are a versatile food item that is liked and enjoyed by people from all ethnicities and age groups. You will hardly come across someone who is not fond of chocolates, except pure diabetic people who have to hold back in spite of their longing hearts.

Has someone ever thought why it is that chocolates are so irresistible? Why do people enjoy them so much? And how come not even the famous eastern traditional sweet – the meethai – is as popular as chocolate?

Well, the answer lies in the fact that chocolates give us pleasure and this has been proven by scientific reason too. Scientists found out that chocolates contain a protein called phenethylamine, which is the same hormone that is released from the brain when a person falls in love. Some more digging into the physiology of this hormone tells us that it causes the release of other neurotransmitters in the body – norepinephrine(noradrenaline)anddopamine.

It is widely known that norepinephrine increases the heart rate and makes our palms sweaty. High levels of norepinephrine in the brain also narrow down the appetite and increase the scale of pleasure. The release of its corresponding neurotransmitter, dopamine, makes us feel happy and good, bringing about a more  sociable  and friendly change in the body by activating five types of dopamine receptors in the brain that also trigger the ‘pleasure system’. But it’s not just this; high levels of phenethylamine itself increase the energy of the living system, making it more enthusiastic and bugged.

That being said, there is another side to the story. Phenethylamine has a very small half life and is readily metabolized in the body, so that it is not available to drive the body down the charming lane; so much for the credit given to Phenethylamine for the happy chocolate feeling, when it is mainly dopamine that is the forerunner. But we still cannot defer the role of phenethylamine in this regard, as it has also been suggested that phenethylamine is occupied in the presynaptic vesicles, which are usually the home of dopamine. This allows dopamine to regulate freely, giving the body a happy boost.

This brings us to the conclusion that although dopamine is the main cause of the brain’s emotional drive, the other two neurotransmitters discussed above cannot be neglected either. Indeed it may be helpful to think of dopamine as the driver, and phenethylamine and noradrenaline as the occupants of the back seat, giving dopamine a leg up.

Nowadays, people have just made chocolate an affection icon, a way to express their feelings and joys. Chocolate ads in this era mainly depict the alluring emotions.

Long gone are the days when chocolates were also showed in ads involving childhood joys. But whatever the story may be, the theme remains the same: chocolates are there if you have to win over someone, apologize to somebody, celebrate and so on. This is also made easier by the vast variety of forms the chocolates come in – dark chocolate, white chocolate, liquidchocolate, chocolatebars,chocolatedisks,etc.

People also like to have them in all sorts of ways – in cakes, in biscuits, dairy stuff, with milk, wafers, ice-creams or even raw. It is a universal favorite and has now found its way into almost every occasion. So the next time if you are dealing with something related to emotions, do try chocolates – it is naturally made to make you happy!

About the author: Sehrish Khan is a House Officer at Civil Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan. She is interested in the field of Cardiology and is currently working as Senior Editor and Blogger for JPMS Blogs.

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Team HTV

Team HTV:

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