Monday, February 9, 2009

Black Love

Last weekend, I spent hours making five dozen of cupcakes. It was tiring but worth it. On the left is my favorite among the bunch- fine dark chocolate cupcakes with special dark chocolate ganache. It is shamelessly bad for the diet but it is amazingly rich and completely addicting. So what is it about chocolate that makes you want to chow them down and throw all caution to the wind?

Here's some interesting information about chocolate that could shed some light on the subject.--

Chocolate comes from cocoa beans and contains about 300 chemicals (1)(2). The cocoa bean comes from the Cocoa Tree, which is native to Central America and South America. The beans are dried and then exported. Once the beans reach manufacturers they are processed and eventually made into the product known as coco. This is then used to make chocolate. The finished product is believes to have various side effects when consumed. Phenyl ethylamine (4) is one of the hormones present in chocolate. This hormone is similar to an amphetamine (3). It makes the neurotransmitters in the brain move more quickly (1). This helps a person who has consumed chocolate stay alert. This hormone is the same one that is known to produce the "runner's high" in long distance runners. It gives an energetic boost. Caffeine and Theo bromine produce a lifting of the spirits as well. Chocolate is known to contain some caffeine but not nearly as much as coffee or tea. One cup if cocoa contains only 0-25mg of caffeine, while the same amount of coffee contains 50-175mg of caffeine (5). In such a small concentration the caffeine in chocolate does not have the impact of other caffeinated foods, which are known to increase energy for a short period of time and than cause fatigue. However the little bit of caffeine in chocolate combines with the Theo bromine to produce a boost (1). Theo bromine, like caffeine, is a stimulant. The caffeine and Theo bromine in chocolate exist in small dosages but scientists believe when combined they have an impact on the person eating the food. This boost caused by chocolate is the reason why chocolate is harmful to some animals. For example the nervous and cardiovascular systems of dogs can not handle the stimulation chocolate causes (2). In addition to these chemicals chocolate induces cannabinoid and seratonin production in the brain. Both of these chemicals are related to happiness.

Read the rest of the article here.

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