Everyone knows money doesn’t grow on trees—parents have been saying it since day one. It’s something one must toil over and earn in order to live day-by-day. Yet, chocolate does grow on trees and has been proven to provide key feel-good factors that promote happiness. Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can buy chocolate.
Chocolate consumption dates back 4,000 years, to the ancient peoples of present-day Mexico: the Maya and Aztecs. As we do today, they roasted fermented cacao seeds and ground it in to a powder, which was then used to formulate a cold, frothy chocolate drink. Ironically, the cacao beans were also used by the Maya as money.
How does chocolate contribute to happiness today? To begin, it contains the world’s most highly consumed psychoactive drug, caffeine, which is proven to be pro-dopamine and reduce causes of depression. There is also a significant presence of serotonin in cacao, a natural neurotransmitter that balances functions in the brain such as behavior and mood.
Phenylethylamine, a natural chemicals, is found in chocolate and is know for its dopamine-boosting qualities, also deemed the “Love Drug” for mimicking the brain chemistry of someone who is in love. This natural chemical found in high concentrations in chocolate plays a key role in overall feelings of wellbeing and a number of cognitive processes such as: memory formation, learning capacity, speed of recall, attention span, improved focus, mental clarity and concentration.
A final feel-good factor in chocolate: the pleasure of consuming the rich delicacy while knowing it makes the body and brain happier and healthier in the mean time. With all of its feel-good, brain-stimulating chemicals, chocolate is the key superfood to happiness—and it grows on trees.