Anyone who's ever gorged on a box of Valentine's sweets by their lonesome or eaten a candy bar to make themselves feel better knew this one was coming. Chocolate is beloved across the world for its sweet, rich taste, and it can often help perk up your mood. But, believe it or not, the pleasure you receive from eating chocolate may have more to do with narcotics than the high you may get from consuming a sweet dessert.
Chocolate contains unique fatty acids called cannabinoids, which are also found in marijuana, or cannabis. Cannabinoids affect the parts of the brain responsible for memory and movement and can cause a person to feel extremely relaxed. But don't worry, the Feds aren't likely to issue a crackdown on chocolate bars anytime soon. Although chocolate contains these chemicals, they're found in only trace amounts.
You probably know a variety of ways to add chocolate to your diet, but you can't just eat any old candy bar and instantly find yourself in a better mood. The more natural the chocolate, the better its pick-me-up potential, so try nibbling on a few pieces of sweetened, dark, all-natural chocolate -- just a few ounces should boost your mood without increasing your waistline.
For more information on foods that can make you happier, check out the links on the following page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Bouchez, Colette. "Serotonin: 9 Questions and Answers." WebMD. 2009. (12/09/09)http://www.webmd.com/depression/recognizing-depression-symptoms/serotonin
- Chen, J. "Selenium and Selenoproteins in the Brain and Brain Diseases." (12/16/09) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12807419
- Cooney, Elizabeth. "Fishing for Facts." Boston Globe. 12/14/09. (12/14/09)http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2009/12/14/conflicting_reports_raise_health_quandary_for_consumers_of_fish/?page=1
- Food Standards Agency. "FSA Issues New Advice on Oily Fish Consumption." 06/24/04. (12/14/09) http://www.food.gov.uk/news/pressreleases/2004/jun/oilyfishadvice0604press
- --- "What's an Oily Fish?" 06/24/04. (12/14/09)http://www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2004/jun/oilyfishdefinition
- Lawson, Willow. "Omega-3s For Boosting Mood." Psychology Today. 01/03/03. (12/14/09)http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200301/omega-3s-boosting-mood
- MedicineNet. "Definition of Selenosis." 2009. (12/10/09)http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=39069
- Men's Health. "Mood-Lifting Food." 2009. (12/09/09)http://www.menshealth.co.uk/Health/Mood~lifting-food/v2
- O'Connor, Anahad. "The Claim: Chocolate is an Aphrodisiac." NY Times. 07/18/06. (12/14/09)http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/18/health/18real.html?_r=1
- Science Daily. "Oily Fish." 2009. (12/14/09) http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/o/oily_fish.htm
- See, Katharine A., Peter S. Lavercombe, Jasmine Dillon and Riesa Ginsberg. "Accidental Death from Acute Selenium Poisoning." MJA. 2006. (12/10/09)http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/185_07_021006/see10169_fm.html
- Stoppler, Melissa, MD. "Holiday Turkey…Can It Really Make You Sleepy?" (12/16/09) http://www.emedicinehealth.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=55219
- Ursell, Amanda. "Eat Your Way to Happiness." 11/07/09. (12/10/09)http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/article6904660.ece
- Walling, Elizabeth. "Learn Which Four Amino Acid Supplements Can Improve Energy and Mood." Natural News. 10/02/09. (12/11/09) http://www.naturalnews.com/027145_glutamine_mood_depression.html
HowStuffWorks looks at the new FDA-mandated food nutrition labels.