Why Do We Crave Chocolate?

Getty Images
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."

General Mills Is Recalling More Than 600,000 Pounds of Gold Medal Flour Over E. Coli Risk

jirkaejc/iStock via Getty Images
jirkaejc/iStock via Getty Images

The FDA recently shared news of a 2019 product recall that could impact home bakers. As CNN reports, General Mills is voluntarily recalling 600,000 pounds of its Gold Medal Unbleached All-Purpose Flour due to a possible E. coli contamination.

The decision to pull the flour from shelves was made after a routine test of the 5-pound bags. According to a company statement, "the potential presence of E. coli O26" was found in the sample, and even though no illnesses have been connected to Gold Medal flour, General Mills is recalling it to be safe.

Escherichia coli O26 is a dangerous strain of the E. coli bacterium that's often spread through commercially processed foods. Symptoms include abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Most patients recover within a week, but in people with vulnerable immune systems like young children and seniors, the complications can be deadly.

To avoid the potentially contaminated batch, look for Gold Medal flour bags with a "better if used by" date of September 6, 2020 and the package UPC 016000 196100. All other products sold under the Gold Medal label are safe to consume.

Whether or not the flour in your pantry is affected, the recall is a good reminder that consuming raw flour can be just as harmful as eating raw eggs. So when you're baking cookies, resist having a taste until after they come out of the oven—or indulge in one of the many edible cookie dough products on the market instead.

[h/t CNN]

The World's Spiciest Chip Is Sold Only One to a Customer

Paqui
Paqui

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to get pepper-sprayed directly in your mouth, Paqui Chips has something you can’t afford to miss. Following the success of their Carolina Reaper Madness One Chip Challenges back in 2016 and 2017, Food & Wine reports that the company has re-released the sadistic snack. Continuing their part-marketing gimmick, part-public safety effort, the Reaper chip won’t be sold in bags. You just get one chip.

That’s because Paqui dusts its chips with the Carolina Reaper Pepper, considered the world’s hottest, and most (attempted) consumers of the chip report being unable to finish even one. To drive home the point of how hot this chip is—it’s really, extremely, punishingly hot—the chip is sold in a tiny coffin-shaped box

Peppers like the Carolina Reaper are loaded with capsaicin, a compound that triggers messages of heat and pain and fiery consumption; your body can respond by vomiting or having shortness of breath. While eating the chip is not the same as consuming the bare, whole pepper, it’s still going to be a very uncomfortable experience. For a profanity-filled example, you can check out this video:

The chip will be sold only on Paqui’s website for $6.99 per chip or $59.90 for a 10-pack. The company also encourages pepper aficionados to upload photos or video of their attempts to finish the chip. If it becomes too much, try eating yogurt, honey, or milk to dampen the effects.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER