The Science of Sustainability

Producer's Notes: The Sweet Science of Chocolate

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Bring it on! A healthy dose of epicatechin, serotonin, caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine, and polyphenolsThe scientific name for chocolate, Theobroma, translates to “food of the gods.” This delectable confection has been worshipped for centuries and the fervor for this sweet treat hasn’t abated yet. Scientists have been studying the putative health benefits of dark chocolate for over a decade, and their studies are showing that it shouldn’t necessarily be regarded as a guilty indulgence.

As seen in our QUEST story, "The Sweet Science of Chocolate," UCSF’s Mary Engler conducted a clinical trial that showed that a plant-based flavonoid, epicatechin, helped to promote healthy blood flow in healthy patients.

Other researchers in the late ‘90’s, such as Adam Drenowski at the University of Washington, found that chocolate helps trigger the release of endorphins, while Daniele Piomelli of UC Irvine, conducted research on cannabinoids found in chocolate.

And recent research suggested that chocolate could even be good for your memory. There are other compounds present in chocolate which may have beneficial effects on your mind and body, such as serotonin, caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine, and polyphenols. Who knows what future chocolate research may yield, but in the meantime– no joke here– you might even be pumping chocolate-based fuels into your gas tank!

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Category: Biology, Health, Television

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Jenny Oh

About the Author ()

Jenny is happy to wear multiple hats at KQED; she works as an Interactive Producer for the Science & Environment unit and blogs for Bay Area Bites, KQED's popular food blog. Jenny graduated with honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Film and Television program and has worked for WNET/PBS, The Learning Channel, Sundance Channel and HBO.