Most of us would have had a chocolate or two regularly in our childhood. Many adults, too, do not mind having an occasional bite of chocolate, making it one of the most loved desserts around the world. Chocolate is seen as an easy way to satisfy sugar cravings as well. However, chocolates do not come without side effects. This article looks at the negative impact of chocolate consumption on our brains. Here are a few side effects of chocolate consumption on the brain:
There is good reason and empirical evidence to believe that chocolate provides an instant mood boost and energy when consumed in moderation. But on the flip side, chocolates can be addictive as well. This is because the consumption of sugary foods like chocolate leads to the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine in the brain. When a person relies on chocolate to get a mood boost for a long time, it can cause dependency, which is typically associated with addiction.
Chocolate can be highly addictive in nature
The prefrontal cortex is a part of the brain responsible for decision-making and impulse control. When we see or smell chocolate, our brain’s prefrontal cortex evaluates how much we want it and how rewarding it might be. This evaluation impacts our decisions and contributes to our cravings and excitement. Research also suggests that widespread activation of the prefrontal cortex might make it difficult for people to resist cravings.
Effect of chocolate on the prefrontal Cortex
A research study conducted in 2010 on chocolate and depressive symptoms had some interesting findings. The study found that higher scores on a depression test were associated with greater chocolate consumption. A recent study in China had similar findings, in which it was concluded that diets that included a high intake of sugary foods like chocolates increased the risk of anxiety and depression among their consumers. Although the research seems alarming, further research might be required to validate these findings.
Many of us might be unaware, but caffeine is an ingredient in chocolate. In fact, the greater the amount of cocoa, the higher the caffeine content in the chocolate. Caffeine is generally associated with alertness, which can lead to disturbed sleep, making dark chocolates a bad option if you are looking for a good sleep at night. Additionally, chocolate also contains theobromine, which is a mild stimulant, in significant quantities. Chocolate also contains a high amount of sugar, which might contribute to insomnia.
As per the American Migraine Foundation, chocolate is considered the second most frequent trigger for migraine attacks, right after alcohol. They believe it affects about 22% of people who experience migraines. The addictive nature of chocolates can cause physical dependency as well. When a person tries to stop chocolate consumption after long periods of dependency, headaches may appear as a withdrawal symptom.
Apart from these negative effects on brain and mental health, excessive chocolate consumption can also lead to physical problems such as weight gain and obesity, which might invite other mental health issues such as low self-esteem, body image issues, etc.
The Link Between Chocolate and Depressive Symptoms
While moderate chocolate can have positive effects on the brain, such as enhanced mood, memory, and concentration, excessive consumption can be harmful, leading to negative effects such as cravings and migraine headaches. Thus, it is advisable to monitor your chocolate intake.
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