Ever since humankind grew its first sweet tooth, there has been nothing like chocolate to raise the spirits.
For many years, scientists are trying to find out exactly what makes chocolate so irresistible. Was it because of the metal elements like magnesium and calcium that help lower our blood pressure and our stress levels or the “pleasure-promoting” chemical phenylethylamine or any of its other 300 compounds that can boost energy and libido?
Now, scientists at Cambridge University have revealed a new leads for the possible explanation. By employing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers were able to identify and track the activity of the pleasure centre in a human brain.
The colored region of this brain scan shows how listening to nice music stimulates a feel-good factor linked to feelings of wellbeing.
The colored area of this brain scan shows how the effect of eating chocolate on the brain is much greater than that of listening to music. It seems like chocolate has a unique blend of sensory qualities which make us feel good, activating pleasure centres in the brain.
Cambridge neuroscientist, Adrian Owen, commented: “Both smelling and eating chocolate activate areas of the brain that are known to be involved in creating feelings of pleasure. The significant effects of having chocolates seem to be mainly psychological, rather than through direct biological action. The unique combination of aroma, texture and taste makes eating chocolate a pleasurable experience that stimulates the emotional feel-good centres of the brain.”
In short, the chocolate tastes good, so we feel good!
So in these stressful days (exam reviewing, assignment writing, meeting deadlines etc etc), please find your “lost” feel-good moments in heeding the advice of writer Charles Dickens “In trying times, there is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” :-)