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3 Scientific Reasons We Love Chocolate So Much – Psych2go Explains

Without a doubt, chocolate is one of the most loved sweet treats in the world. While not everyone may be partial to the sweet, melting, gooey confection, the fact that we like it so much is not just a coincidence. There are psychological reasons why it is something that tickles the taste buds of so many of us.

  1. Sugar

Our love for sugary things is something that helped us survive since humans started walking the earth. Food with a high sugar content provided you with more energy. Riper fruits are ‘better’ because they contain more sugar. Since sugary stuff used to depend on the season a lot, it was a rare(r) treat than it is nowadays.

Of course, we need this energy to survive, but this desire for sweetness is sometimes also a risk. This is especially important in wealthy, westernised countries. The risk is that nowadays in westernised countries there is often plenty of sugary food to be found for it not to be very special or necessary anymore. Yet this mechanism is still very much present within our bodies because it generally is so crucial to surivival.

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The high sugar content in chocolate enforces the desire for it, because to our deepest instincts sugar is the thing we need. Research has pointed out that sugar can lead to activity in the nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain associated with reward and motivation. Like the theobromine, sugar can possibly cause us to feel nice, which is why we like having it (Greenberg, 2013).

  1. Theobromine

Cocoa, and therefore most chocolate varieties (white chocolate is kind of an exception) contain theobromine. This name is derived from the Greek words for “god” and “food”. Theobromine has effects similar to caffeine. This lightly stimulating effect – that can be weak enough not to be noticed – can make chocolate extra nice. It’s almost like a conditioned behaviour: the action (eating chocolate) makes you feel nice, so you’re more likely to repeat the action (eat more chocolate).

  1. Fatty

Again, the butter from the cocoa plants is very rich in energy. Like the sugar, this can provide you with a lot of fuel, and also like the sugar, in Westernized countries it’s – nowadays – very easily available.

We are wired to crave fatty foods because, like sugar, it provides us with (quite a lot of) calories over a period of time. These same fatty or greasy foods are often creamy, which provides you with a certain mouthfeel that people often agree, is pleasant (Earthsky, 2011). Fatty foods also tend to be more filling, and when we feel full, our brain releases chemicals that make us feel content.

Previously on Psych2go Explains

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Sources

Spector, Dina. An Evolutionary Explanation for Why We Like Sugar. 

Why Our Brains Love Sugar – and why our bodies don’t 

BBC Science “Why is Sugar so Addictive?” 

Earthsky “Why do fatty food taste so good?”

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