It triggers the production of an opiate-like chemical in the brain which encourages us to eat more.
A team at Michigan University injected rats with enkephalin, a chemical which occurs naturally in parts of the brain, and found that these rats ate twice as many M&Ms as they normally would – about 5% of their body weight – equivalent to an average person eating about 3.5 kg in an hour.
They also found that when presented with large amounts of chocolate without the injections the rats still produced a surge of the chemical in their brains. The chemical doesn’t make them like chocolate more but increases the desire and impulse to eat it.
One of the the scientists who discovered this at Michigan University, Alexandra DiFeliceantonio, said the findings had implications for the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders, such as binge eating, as well as drug addiction and other compulsive behaviours. (Obese people often have poor impulse control).
So now you know why once you open the box of chocolates you have to finish it!
But loving chocolate is nothing new. The Mayans were having chocolate drinks with meals in 500 BC.
Chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao tree which are scooped out from pods and left to ferment when they go brown. The seeds are then roasted and ground into a paste
It’s believed that their predecessors the Olmecs, who lived around the gulf of Mexico and the northern part of South America, cultivated the trees as the word cacao is an Olmec word.
Apart from everyday drinking chocolate it was also considered the food of the gods and that’s what the scientific name for the cacao tree, Theobrama Cacao, means.