We all love a bit of chocolate every now and then. Infact for many of us chocolate is something we have long since found very difficult to resist. Often we jokingly refer to its addictive properties to deflect from our attempts to succumb to it, but now, recent research has concluded this might actually be true.
According to researchers from the University of Michigan there is a clear link in the urge that rats have to overindulge in chocolate morsels to a part of the brain that produces a ‘natural, opium-like chemical’.
Apparently the brain has ‘more extensive systems to make individuals want to overconsume rewards than previously thought’ says head research Alexandra DiFeliceantonio, which ‘may be one of the reasons overconsumption is a problem today’.
In the study, drugs were administered to the rats to boost the part of the brain called the neostriatum. Once that part of the brain was stimulated, the rats were found to gorge themselves on more than twice the number of M&M chocolates than they otherwise would normally have eaten.
Researchers also found that enkephalin, a natural drug-like chemical that is produced in that same part of the brain, also rose when rats began to eat the candy-coated morsels.
DiFeliceantonio ‘s team were keen to point out though that the drugs didn’t make the rats like chocolate more, but rather elicited certain brain chemicals to increase their desire and impulse to eat them.