7 reasons why chocolate is the perfect Valentine’s gift

7 reasons why chocolate is the perfect Valentine’s gift

Not much happens in February. Christmas is over, the January blues are wearing off, but it isn’t quite spring yet and it’s too cold to hang around outside. This is all fine with me, as I’m a nihilist who simply reclines with a whiskey and yells “NOTHING F****** MATTERS ANYWAY” to my imaginary friends. But for retail businesses, February matters a lot. A baron, purgatory-like month isn’t particularly newsworthy, so there’s not much to sell besides Netflix updates and variations on the Walkers Grab Bag.

The solution? To weakly associate chocolate with romance, then sell the hell out of it. It’s magical time of year.

And if you want to witness the magic, simply walk into any retailer – whether it’s WHSmiths, Boots, Thorntons or H&M, chocolate will be dominating the display along with accompanying naffness like a dangly pink sign about being “spoiled rotten” and so forth…

Anyway. Enough of my cynical introduction to the materialistic takeover of St Valentine’s Day. I thought it would be nice to list the benefits of chocolate from a scientific perspective. So that’s what I did. Here they are.

1. Chocolate makes you fall in love
Chocolate contains phenylethylanine. It might look like a spelling error, but it’s a powerful ingredient that mimics the sensation of falling in love once ingested. In moderate doses, phenylethylanine promotes the feeling of attraction, excitement, and nervousness. It also quickens the pulse.

It works by combining with dopamine in the brain, which causes a relaxing and satisfying sensation. The rise in dopamine causes the release of oxytocin – the chemical released during orgasm. I’ll leave you to imagine what that feels like.

2. Chocolate gets you excited
Chocolate also contains theobromine. Now in high doses, theobromine’s actually a poison – that’s why dogs can’t handle it. But in bitesized form it’s a stimulant, which causes a characteristic ‘high’ as soon as it’s ingested.

As it’s a precursor to caffeine, you actually get a double whammy when you eat chocolate, with a first wind of caffeine-induced energy followed by a second wind as the theobromine starts converting.

FYI: theobromine’s also a diuretic. So if you take a very high dose, make sure you check out where the nearest bathroom is.

3. Chocolate makes you happy
When you eat chocolate, you trigger the release of endorphins. These are the same chemicals that get triggered during moderate exercise, producing a refreshed, blissful sensation that prevents you giving up on your workout a few minutes in.

4. Chocolate relieves anxiety
Chocolate contains magnesium, which is a sedative electrolyte that works by regulating the cardiovascular and nervous systems. It also lowers cortisol, which is the angry, panicky insomnia-inducing nightmare hormone that I’m always ranting about.

Chocolate also helps with anxiety by providing tryptophan – an amino acid that regulates the release of the transmitter seratonin. Both high and low levels of serotonin can cause anxiety disorders, so it’s important to eat foods that get the balance right.

5. Chocolate sharpens your mind
There’s a fatty acid in chocolate called Anademide, which accelerates the flow of information between nerve cells. The term is actually derived from the old Sanskrit word for “bliss.”

It works by quickening thought processes and heightening sensation. In very high doses it can cause feelings of transcendence, and even stimulate visions.

6. Chocolate protects against cardiac malfunctions and strokes
Chocolate contains Epicatechins. These are substances which act via delta-opiod receptors, which play a critical role in cardiac rhythm and blood clot formation. As a result, they’re thought to offer protection from cardiac arrhythmia, and relief from stroke injury.

7. Chocolate reduces cancer risk
There are flavonoids in chocolate which have anti-oxidant properties, as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Since epicatechins also carry anti-oxidants, chocolate offers a strong line of cellular defense.

The theory goes that the more anti-oxidant substances there are combined in a food source, the higher its anti-cancer potential.

The End

Well, that’s my contribution to this year’s Valentine’s Day ticked off the list.

I should point out that the vast majority of benefits only apply to dark, minimally-processed chocolate, and not your average Snickers. In fact if you believe current science, sugar cancels out most of the benefits, so reach for the bitter stuff if you can.

I know you want me to say it. But I’m not going to say it.

Seriously, I don’t want to say it.

Oh FFS.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

By Emma Langley

by | Feb 13, 2017 | health | 0 comments

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