Is chocolate addictive?

It might be, just as anything good can be.

Brain stimulant

Many people notice that eating chocolate can result in a feeling of elation. There may be several reasons for this – apart from the sheer pleasure of eating such as silken, melting, taste-sensation.

There are more than 300 chemicals in chocolate, and among them are several that have known effects on brain function and the nervous system – albeit in tiny quantities. Chocolate, for instance, contains caffeine. Theobromine (which takes its name from the cacao tree) is recognised as a mood-improving stimulant. Chocolate also contains tryptophan, which is used by the brain to produce serotonin – a neurostransmitter (chemical messenger) that is associated with feelings of pleasure. Similar effects are ascribed to two neurotransmitters contained in chocolate: phenylethylamine (related to amphetamines) and anandamide (which affects the brain in the same way as cannabis).

Chocoholics

These factors may explain the mysteries of the pleasures of chocolate. And they may explain why some people – 'chocoholics' – claim to be addicted to it. The active ingredients themselves are probably not present in sufficient quantities to be addictive, but the pleasure received – and ingrained memory of that pleasure – might be enough to form a habit.

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