Is chocolate a drug

Drugs: Chocolate is a "drug"

Cambridge. US researchers have discovered what makes chocolate so irresistible: As soon as you look at it and then eat it, a small area of ​​the brain releases an opium-like substance, the enkephalin. This triggers a kind of "eat now" and "eat more of it" command in the brain. The scientists discovered this in an experiment with rats. In these cases, the enkephalin content in the brain increased as soon as they saw chocolate in front of them and began to eat, the researchers report in the journal "Current Biology".

When the researchers injected the animals with a small amount of enkephalin into the brain area, the so-called dorsal neostriate, in a follow-up experiment, the rats then even gobbled up twice as much chocolate as normal. If you convert this consumption of 17 grams of chocolate drops to a person, this would correspond to 3.6 kilograms of chocolate. "It is very likely that the enkephalin drives overeating and addictive behavior not only in rats, but also in humans," says lead author Alexandra DiFeliceantonio of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Greed increases
The signal substance is released at the sight of chocolate and possibly other sweet and fatty foods. This happens in the same area of ​​the brain that is also active when drug addicts observe others using drugs or when overweight people see food.

The release of enkephalin in this area of ​​the brain only increases the rats' greed for chocolate. The researchers demonstrated in a further experiment that the animals didn't like the chocolate any better than usual. They just wanted to eat a lot of it quickly and quickly.