For July 7, World Chocolate Day, we have the cacao flower (Theobroma cacao). Secret meaning: Yum yum!
Native to the deep tropical regions of Central and South America, its seeds, cocoa beans, are used to make cocoa mass, cocoa powder, and chocolate!
The generic name is derived from the Greek for “food of the gods.”
There are over 300 naturally-occurring chemicals in chocolate, and some of them can affect the human brain via the release of particular neurotransmitters.
One compound, phenylethlyamine, causes alertness and a degree of excitement, quickens the pulse rate, and makes you happy. Phenylethylamine is sometimes called “the love drug”, because it arouses feelings similar to those that occur when one is in love.
Another neurotransmitter, serotonin, is a mood-lifter, as well, and the chemical that causes the release of serotonin into the brain is, tryptophan, also found in chocolate.
Not only that, among the fats in chocolate is one called anadamide, named after the Sanskrit word for “bliss”.
Anandamide activates a receptor which causes dopamine production. Dopamine causes a feeling of intense well-being. And finally, eating chocolate releases endorphins into the brain, which decreases levels of both stress and pain.
For those susceptible to chocolate’s effects, why not enjoy some today. If not, simply enjoy the cacao tree’s pretty flowers, which grow directly from the trunk of the tree.
And for news you can use, according to Tulane University doctoral candidate Arman Sadeghpour an extract of cocoa powder that occurs naturally in chocolates, teas, and other products might be an effective natural alternative to fluoride in toothpaste. In fact, his research revealed that the cocoa extract was even more effective than fluoride in fighting cavities!