Why Do We Crave Chocolate?

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Getty Images

If you’re like most people, you simply can’t pass up the opportunity to partake in a piece of chocolate (or five). Some have even said that chocolate melting on the tongue is better than a kiss. But why do we love chocolate so much?

Our cravings can be traced to two places: Our guts—studies have shown that chocolate lovers have different bacteria in their intestines than non-chocolate lovers—and our brains. We crave chocolate because eating it results in the production of opioids, which dull pain and increase levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain’s reward system that helps us experience pleasure. (Drugs like cocaine and amphetamines work directly on the dopamine system.)

Chocolate can have many health benefits in moderation, but often, people can’t stop popping truffles—and scientists might know why. In a recent study, researchers working with rats injected a drug directly into the neostriatum, a region of the brain primarily associated with movement. When the rats began to eat M&Ms, a naturally occurring chemical produced in that region of the brain, called enkephalin, surged, increasing the rats’ desire to eat the candies. The animals ate twice the number of M&Ms they would have eaten normally.

Alexandra DiFeliceantonio, a researcher at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor who ran the study, says this same area is active when obese people see food, or when drug users take in a drug scene. “This means that the brain has more extensive systems to make individuals want to overconsume rewards than previously thought,” she said. "It seems likely that our enkephalin findings in rats mean that this neurotransmitter may drive some forms of overconsumption and addiction in people."

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

Amazon
Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

You Can Make Baby Yoda’s Favorite Blue Cookies at Home

© LUCASFILM
© LUCASFILM

Season 2 of The Mandalorian has revealed some important plot elements, but fans of the Star Wars series are still asking one question: What were those little blue cookies Baby Yoda ate in episode four? While you can't hitch a ride to the planet Nevarro to find out, you can now bake your own version of the snack at home, A.V. Club reports.

Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau recently teamed up with Binging With Babish’s Andrew Rea to adapt the intergalactic recipe for Earth kitchens. Baby Yoda (a.k.a. The Child, a.k.a. Grogu) has an adventurous appetite, but these aqua-blue cookies may be the most delicious-looking thing he eats on the show.

Favreau revealed that the cookies used on set were basically blue-raspberry macarons. Rea recreates two versions of the snack: traditional French macarons with bright-blue food coloring, and a simpler, Nilla wafer-like confection that's easier to make. You can follow along with both recipes in the video below.

If you're not interested in making Baby Yoda's cookies from scratch, you can also buy Nevarro Nummies from Williams Sonoma for $50. Here are more products celebrating season 2 of The Mandalorian.

[h/t A.V. Club]