|Cocoa Beans, pastel, Sean Kirkpatrick|
DARK CHOCOLATE IN TEN SENTENCES
1. Not unlike St. John’s Wort, dark chocolate is one of nature’s gifts for mood enhancement.
2. Chocolate triggers the release of endorphins (natural opiates) into your brain, causing a decrease in pain and stress while inducing euphoria.
3. Chocolate contains serotonin, a mood-altering antidepressant, and it also contains tryptophan, which ensures the release of serotonin into your bloodstream and brain.
4. Chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine, known as chocolate amphetamine because it induces excitement and alertness.
5. Another compound found in chocolate is anandamide, similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the salient ingredient in marijuana, which produces dopamine, leading to a feeling of wellbeing and happiness; it is no accident that its name derives from ananda, Sanskrit for bliss.
6. Yet another compound found in chocolate: theobromine, which affects the nervous system, causing mental and physical relaxation while heightening alertness; the Greek word theobroma translates to food of the gods.
7. Chocolate also contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that strengthens the immune system.
8. Dark chocolate lowers bad cholesterol and reduces blood pressure, thereby increasing arterial blood flow.
9. To enjoy the mood-enhancing effects of dark chocolate, avoid commercial brands, which dilute the all-important cocoa bean with other ingredients that negate its benefits; search out gourmet brands that offer at least 60 percent cocoa content.
10. One ounce of dark chocolate daily is enough to enjoy the full spectrum of its benefits.