Have you ever had a bite of chocolate and felt blissful and relaxed? Well, scientists believe that feeling may be due to N-arachidonoylethanolamine (Anandamide) - a molecule found naturally in our bodies, but also in chocolate. Anandamide is described from the Sanskrit word “ananda”, which translates to “bliss, joy and delight” because of the actions it is believed to have on our mood.
How does anandamide work?
Anandamide is a neurotransmitter, a molecule that helps in the signalling through our brain and nervous system, and also an endocannabinoid, which is a compound produced in the body that binds to cannabinoid (CB1 and CB2) receptors in the brain and throughout the body that form our endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system plays an important role in the maintenance of many physiological and psychological processes throughout our central and peripheral nervous system, the former being responsible for mood and the latter our immune system and homeostasis.
In fact, anandamide is mostly linked to our CB1 and our central nervous system, impacting our state of mind and mental well-being. Anandamide is naturally produced by the body, but quickly broken down by an enzyme known as fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). Thankfully, besides the 300 other biochemicals in chocolate such as caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine, chocolate also contains anandamide and while anandamide, like other neurotransmitters decompose quickly in the body, chocolate contains compounds that slow this process by inhibiting the action of FAAH.
Another food source high in anandamide is black truffles. And interestingly, foods like black pepper (which is also found in our Bliss Bars), apples, blackberries, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cucumbers, endive, green beans, lettuce and green tea have the antioxidant kaempferol which can increase the amount of anandamide. However, chocolate is probably the most (some would argue) delicious way to ingest this exciting ‘bliss’ molecule!