Chocolate, the happiness of Easter

31 03 2011

Readers, the time is almost here! In less than a month it will be Easter!

In Italy this day has great religious significance, but there are also many traditions not related to our catholic religion. The most important custom involves colourfully decorated chocolate Easter eggs with a small surprise hidden inside. Even if many people, from little kids to old men, buy Easter eggs just to break them open with a knee strike or, for the most self-injurious ones, with their head, personally I buy eggs for one reason only – to eat them!

Let me take this opportunity to tell you why I love chocolate and illustrate to you some of its benefits, which you may not know of. My objective today is to erase all your fears about eating chocolate. Never again will you think of it as a horrible, tempting monster! Above all, this article is to convince you that when you eat a bar of dark chocolate or when you have a cup of hot chocolatey goodness, all you have to do is relax and enjoy that magic moment.

There is no doubt, of course, that chocolate is a high fat food (40 grams of dark chocolate contains 210 calories and 13 grams of fat) so if you take it in large quantities, it would not be good for your health. But actually, I can’t think of anything you can consume in large amounts without it having a bad effect on you.

There is growing evidence that, in small quantities, some kinds of chocolate may actually be good for you. Dark chocolate is naturally rich in flavanoids, antioxidants that prevent heart diseases. Moreover, chocolate can have also positive effects on your brain: Chocolate actually activates the same part of your brain as certain opiates, such as heroin or morphine, do. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, or PEA, which is an amphetamine-like chemical. PEA is a neurotransmitter that has psychoactive effects on an individual. It is even richer in theobromine, which has an uplifting and stimulating effect on the mind, as well as a chemical structure similar to caffeine.

Studies have shown that while people are eating chocolate, their blood flows to certain areas of the brain, such as the frontal cortex and the midbrain, areas which are activated by some drugs. That’s the reason why, in many cases, psychologists suggest that patients who want to give up smoking or taking drugs should consume chocolate regularly. Apparently, while people are eating chocolate, they are rewarded by feelings of pleasure that are generated by specific parts of the brain that are activated.

I hope that by reading this article you have learnt new, positive things about chocolate. Be careful, though – I’m not suggesting that this Easter you can cram your mouth with mountains of chocolate! Consume it responsibly and in moderation, but please DO enjoy eating chocolate!

by Alberto



One response

20 04 2011

Be careful to don’t gain weight!

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