As scientists from the University of Leeds have been able to verify, the secret of this sensory journey lies in the the way chocolate is ‘lubricated’ in our moutheither by its own ingredients, saliva or a combination of both.
Scientists from the University of Leeds (UK) have just investigated the physical process that takes place in our mouth during that magical moment when a piece of chocolate melts until it becomes a smooth emulsion that unleashes an irrepressible storm of pleasure in our body.
As you have been able to verify, the secret of this sensory journey lies in the the way chocolate is ‘lubricated’ in our moutheither by its own ingredients, saliva or a combination of both.
Apparently, the fat – that of the cocoa butter – plays a fundamental role from the precise moment in which the chocolate comes into contact with the tongue. From there, solid cocoa particles are released, gaining importance in terms of tactile sensation. All of this led the study authors to believe that the deeper fat plays a rather limited role, so can be reduced without affecting the chocolate sensation. A fact that is phenomenal for them, since the objective of this research is precisely the development of a nnew generation of luxury chocolates that have the same texture and generate the same sensations, but that are healthier.
“What chocolate has is cocoa butter which, when in contact with our tongue and palate, melts, turning into an oily liquid and providing that wonderful feeling of pleasure. This process is known as ‘fat bloom’ or ‘fat flower’“, explains María Amaro, specialist in nutrition.
In addition, he continues, “the composition of chocolate fat means that, in the solid state, it has some crystalline forms that melt at different temperatures. However, the palate allows it to melt evenly in the mouth.”
Why do we feel pleasure when chocolate melts in our mouth? “Because in doing so, stimulates the central nervous system and heart muscles. the chocolate contains theobromine, a substance very similar to caffeine which, by stimulating serotonin -the good mood hormone- gives us an immense sense of well-being. Thus, chocolate is popularly referred to as a sex substitute.
He dark chocolate It is what gives us a more intense sensation of pleasure. “contains tryptophan that directly affects the serotonin and it helps to counteract stress. So it’s what I always recommend when people go on a diet to combat the discomfort it entails.”
It acts directly on the central nervous system, due to its stimulating and euphoric properties. “For this reason, when women feel bad or depressed in the days before menstruation, the body asks us for chocolate. It’s something real, it’s not a myth. We have the low serotonin, we feel more down and chocolate gives us that euphoria we need”.
In this sense, he reminds us that “if we really want something, it’s because our body needs it and is asking us for it. If it asks us for chocolate, and we’re not particularly sweet or chocolatiers, it’s because, maybe, we need it magnesium, chromium, B group vitamins, down to omega 3 fatty acids and we are sure to feel more tired or less energetic”.
This expert advocates “include it in our usual diet” for its multiple benefits. “Not only improves brain functionincreasing blood flow and has been shown to help prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”
It also has “a high content of flavonoids which makes it a food with great antioxidant properties, which improves cognitive performance, reduces the risk of dementia and favors concentration”.
Of course, “due to the phenylalanine, tyramine and caffeine contains can trigger headaches in people prone to headaches.
Eating chocolate regularly can be beneficial, “as long as it’s the pure black“. And, yet, “it may take up to a few 30 grams per day“.
Is it good to eat an ounce of chocolate before bed? “Yes, but only one. Because chocolate is not easy to digest and if we go too far, we will have trouble sleeping. My advice? One ounce in the morning and another before bed.”
What is the healthiest cocoa percentage? “It is often said that from 85% cocoa, but it seems to me that this percentage is too high and can cause headaches and heartburn. So my recommendation is of 70%with which all the properties listed above would already be fulfilled”. It is also necessary to take into account that, he continues, “the greater the percentage of cocoa, the less sugar it will have”.
He whitewarns “it is the butter, the one that has more sugar and, therefore, the one that we must take only punctual way for us to enjoy.”
There are thousands of chocolates on the market, but to know which is the healthiest, “just read the labels carefully to check if it has a high percentage of cocoa (from 70% upwards); that the levels of sugar they are short (it is also not necessary that they have nothing); if you have some kind of sweetener and of what kind; and that it doesn’t have a lot of cocoa butter”. Let’s write it down and… raise your hand who managed to reach the end of this text without eating a piece of chocolate!
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