Happiness is ...chocolate.
There’s nothing more satisfying than peeling the foil from a solid hunk of a chocolate bar. Even before you take a bite, the sweet, rich smell makes your mouth water. Shut your eyes, and you’ll believe you stepped straight into Wonka’s chocolate factory.
Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, new job, new house, good day, bad day, catch up or breakup: you can say it with chocolate. It’s the perfect pick me up, the ultimate comfort and the best way to say you care. With so many variations available, you can go much further than simply milk, white or dark. But why is chocolate our go-to treat? Does it really make everything better? Most importantly, does it make us happy?
What’s in a bar?
Dark chocolate is made from cocoa solids, cocoa butter and sugar. Good dark chocolate usually has at least 70% cocoa solids. Milk chocolate is also made from cocoa solids, cocoa butter and sugar, but with the addition of milk powder. Milk chocolate usually has 20-40% cocoa solids. White chocolate on the other hand is made with cocoa butter, sugar and milk powder, but no cocoa solids.
There are several elements in chocolate that have been proven to help you feel happy:
- Tryptophan is an amino acid used to make serotonin, and serotonin produces feelings of happiness.
- Phenethylamine encourages the feelings associated with falling in love, and, combined with dopamine (already found in the brain) it acts as an antidepressant.
- Theobromine works with caffeine to provide us with the surge of energy or ‘high’ that most of us feel after eating chocolate.
Can it improve our health?
As much as we wish we could substitute our apple a day for a bar or two, you don’t need us to tell you that it’s not quite up there with fruit and veg. But depending on what you go for, it’s not as bad as you might think. The much higher cocoa content found in dark chocolate in comparison to milk chocolate, means that dark chocolate has a larger amount of flavonoids. Flavonoids are antioxidants which have the potential to promote cardiac health and counteract high blood pressure. Not bad for something so moreish!
More than just a pretty face...
As chocolate production has diversified and more ingredients have been added to individual bars, chocolate has become more attractive. It’s not just beautiful boxes and brightly coloured wrappers - the chocolate itself can be full of colours, textures and patterns - and as we eat with our eyes first, it’s no wonder chocolate is so appealing.
Above all of course, one of the most obvious reasons chocolate makes us happy is simply because it tastes so delicious, and provided you like chocolate in the first place, there’s a bar or box to suit every palate. For the more traditional at heart, there’s nothing better than a bar of smooth milk chocolate. For the more adventurous, chilli chocolate exists to give every bite an extra kick, or if you’re fancying something ‘stronger’ dark chocolate made completely from cocoa solids will certainly pack a punch. Of course, if you’d rather a selection, our luxury boxes of chocolates can include everything from salted caramel and lemon mousse, to cookie dough and kir royale.
However you like your chocolate, come and see us the next time you need to get your fix and we can guarantee you’ll leave with a smile on your face.
Author - Sophie Howe