Chocolate can make you happy

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Researchers are tracking the mechanism of action of chocolate

Chocolate makes happy. This is confirmed by a computer model from a Jena scientist. Accordingly, an amino acid contained in cocoa is responsible for the fact that it leads to the formation of serotonin in the body. Chocolate does not only lighten the mood, it also has positive effects on blood pressure. Researchers are still working to scientifically explain the different mechanisms of action of chocolate.

Chocolate looks like a firework in the head When looking at the ingredients of chocolate, it is striking that, in addition to varying levels of cocoa, it also contains carbohydrates in the form of sugar and fats. This high-energy combination has already caused undesirable hip gold in some “chocolate”. According to statistics, every German eats an average of ten kilos of chocolate a year. Chocolate treats are extremely popular, especially in the Christmas season. Professor Swen Hesse from the University of Leipzig examined the effect of chocolate on the brain. He came to the conclusion that chocolate and sugar trigger a "light orgy" in the brain, which can act as a kind of replacement for daylight, especially in the dark season. Using nuclear brain images, the nuclear medicine doctor was able to observe a real firework in the head that has a mood-enhancing effect.

Amino acid in chocolate promotes serotonin release in the body According to a new study by Professor Stefan Schuster from the University of Jena and his team, the feelings of happiness that chocolate triggers are based on the amino acid tryptophan, which is responsible for the formation of serotonin. Serotonin has a positive effect on mood in the brain. Tryptophan cannot be produced by the body and must therefore be ingested with food. The amino acid is found in chocolate, bananas, soybeans, dairy products, fish, eggs and poultry, among others. Schuster developed a computer model for tryptophan metabolism because the scientist and his colleagues are featured in the journal in the "Journal of Biological Chemistry".

Chocolate does not only lighten the mood. The ingredients in the treat have numerous other effects. The theobromine from the cocoa bean has a stimulating effect. While the amount contained in chocolate is harmless to humans, the substance poses a great danger to dogs and cats. You can even die from it. For this reason, vets are warning pet owners not to reward their pets with chocolate.

A study by scientists from the German Institute for Nutritional Research in 2010 showed that eating around six grams of chocolate a day can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks by almost 40 percent. The scientists suspect that the positive effect can be attributed to so-called flavanols, which increase the elasticity of the blood vessels and influence blood pressure.

Chocolate can favor cravings Chocolate is not only extremely tasty, it also has an unexpected addictive potential, as researchers reported in 2012 in the journal Current Biologie ”. As part of their study on rats, they found out why it is so difficult to do without chocolate. Accordingly, just the sight of the treat leads to the release of an opium-like substance, the so-called enkephalin, in the brain. In animal experiments, the neuropeptide caused uncontrolled feeding attacks. According to the researchers, the substance in the brain triggers the "eat now" and "eat more" commands. Enkephalin most likely triggers a similar effect in humans. (ag)

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