Why does chocolate reduces stress levels in men?

Letting chocolate dissolve slowly in your mouth produces as big an increase in brain activity and heart rate as a passionate kiss—but the effects of the chocolate last four times longer! Trust science to tell us things we already know!

Actually, scientists have been trying to understand the chemistry of chocolate for years. Although there are several hundred different chemicals in your typical slab, a handful of them seem to be more important than others in making chocolate taste so good. Among the most important are stimulants including theobromine, phenylethylamine, and caffeine (in very small amounts). Researchers at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California say chocolate also contains a feel-good chemical called anandamide, which is found naturally in the brain, and is similar to another one called anandamide THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) found in marijuana. Normally anandamide is broken down quite quickly after it is produced, but the San Diego chemists think the anandamide in chocolate makes the natural anandamide in our brain persist for

longer—in other words, giving us a longer-lasting "chocolate high." So while chocolate does not contain the same active chemicals as marijuana, there is some similarity in the effect that both substances have on our brains.

Other scientists have used brain scanners to study how brain activity changes when we eat chocolate. Scanners like this are based on the neurospsychological idea that different parts of our brains have sometimes quite specialized functions—even to the extent that some bits work almost like discrete modules. In 2001, as part of their research into eating disorders, Dana Small and her colleagues asked their experimental subjects to eat chocolate until well beyond the feeling of satisfaction. They noted one set of brain structures were active when people were still finding the chocolate pleasant (specifically, the subcallosal region, caudomedial orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), insula/operculum, striatum and midbrain), while an entirely different set became active (parahippocampal gyrus, caudolateral OFC and prefrontal regions) once people had eaten too much. Too much chocolate is not necessarily bad for you, but your brain certainly might see it that way.