Saturday, March 19, 2005

Can something that tastes so fine actually be good for you?

I'm speaking of chocolate, one of my favorites.

Research suggests chocolate may have health benefits, could this be true?

Several chocolate ingredients seem to act by affecting the brain's own neurotransmitter network. Chocolate contains a natural love drug - tryptophan - it's a chemical that the brain uses to make a neurotransmitter called serotonin. High levels of serotonin can produce feelings of elation, even ecstasy. While tryptophan could be considered chocolate's ecstasy, another chemical called phenylethylamine has earned the nickname chocolate amphetamine. High levels of this neurotransmitter help promote feelings of attraction, excitement, giddiness and apprehension. Phenylethylamine works by stimulating the brain's pleasure centres and reaches peak levels during orgasm.

But many scientists are sceptical that chocolate could produce mood-altering effects in this way. Chemicals like tryptophan and phenylethylamine, which are also found in many other foodstuffs, are present in chocolate only in very small quantities. To make a substantial impact on the brain's own natural levels of chemicals, experts estimate you would need to eat several kilos of chocolate.

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