Coklat merupakan makanan yang digemari oleh banyak orang dari berbagai usia. Rasanya yang manis serta bentuknya yang beranekaragam membuat orang tertarik ingin mengkonsumsinya. Banyak orang tak melirik kala disodori cokelat. Apalagi, wanita yang tengah berdiet. Kandungan kalori yang tinggi dari makanan ini diyakini menjadi penyebab melonjaknya berat badan. Namun, siapa sangka ada sederet manfaat di balik kelezatan makanan ini. Coklat terbuat dari biji tumbuhan Theobroma cacao. Dalam arti Yunani, theobroma berarti makanan para dewa. Di kebudayaan Aztec, coklat dipersembahkan untuk para pemimpin agama, prajurit, atau bangsawan. Suku Aztec menggunakan biji coklat untuk membuat minuman yang hangat, berbuih, dan sedikit pahit yang disebut dengan chocolatl. Chocolatl adalah ramuan yang sakral yang dihubungkan dengan kesuburan dan kebijaksanaan. Ramuan ini juga dianggap memiliki kemampuan untuk merangsang dan memulihkan kondisi tubuh. Minuman pahit ini mulai dikenal di Eropa sejak tahun 1528. Pada tahun 1876, campuran dari susu, bubuk cocoa dan mentega dikombinasikan menjadi bentuk yang sekarang ini kita kenal, coklat. Pada abad 15, coklat digunakan untuk meredakan demam, sesak napas dan lemah jantung, untuk menguruskan/melangsingkan berat tubuh, menstimulasi saraf pasien yang lemah dan sangat letih, memperbaiki pencernaan di perut, menstimulasi fungsi ginjal dan memperbaiki fungsi usus besar, sumber energi dan sebagainya. Bagi jantung, kandungan flavonoid pada cokelat justru menjaga kesehatan jantung karena menghambat oksidasi LDL. Flavonoid pada cokelat juga berperan sebagai antioksidan yang dapat mencegah penuaan dini. Coklat juga dapat merangsang sistem kekebalan tubuh dengan memproduksi lebih banyak sitokin (protein yang diproduksi sebagai bagian dari sistem imun tubuh), Zat-zat yang terdapat dalam coklat adalah sebagai berikut: 1. Phenylethylamine Kerjanya mirip dengan amfetamin. Dapat meningkatkan serapam tryptophan ke dalam otak yang kemudian menunjukkan dampak dopamine. Tingkat phenylethylamine yg tinggi dapat meningkatkan perasaan tertarik dan eksitasi. Phenylethylamine bekerja merangsang pusat kesenangan pada otak. Zat ini juga membantu menyalurkan perasaan gamang, ketertarikan, dan euforia. Rangsangan-rangsangan pada otak itulah yang membuat ketagihan pada para pengkonsumsi coklat. 2. Theobromine Teobromin terdapat dalam biji coklat dan semua produk coklat. Kandungan teobromin bergantung pada jenis coklat dan ukuran (kandungan teobromin dalam susu coklat lebih sedikit dibandingkan dengan teobromin yang terdapat dalam coklat hitam). Secara struktural mirip dengan kafein. Efek stimulasinya hanya satu per-sepuluh dari kafein.

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Theobromine yang merupakan alkaloida yang tidak berwarna selain ditemukan dalam coklat juga ditemukan dalam obat sebagai diuretik, vasodilator, perangsang myocardial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition menyatakan bahwa theobromine digunakan pertama kali sebagai pengobatan pada penyakit yang berhubungan dengan masalah sirkulasi seperti arteriosklerosis, penyakit vaskular, angine pectoris dan hipertensi. Zat ini dapat menstimulan susunan saraf pusat sehingga kita menjadi merasa rileks. Coklat juga mempengaruhi kinerja neurotransmitter pada otak sehingga dapat mempengaruhi emosi. Efek Withdrawal dari theobromine dapat menyebabkan terjadinya migran. Walaupun theobromine bukan zat adiktif, theobromine dapat menyebabkan ketagihan dalam coklat. Efek stimulatif dari theobromine dapat meningkatkan kesehatan. 3. Anandamide Anandamine merupakan endogenous cannobid yang secara alami menstimulasi otak manusia. Anandamine juga dikenal sebagai arachidonoylethanolamide atau AEA, yang merupakan neurotransmiter dari endogenous cannobinoid yang ditemukan pada hewan dan dalam organ-organ manusia, terutama pada otak. Kerjanya sama dengan THC ( Agen di dalam marijuana yang menyebabkan seseorang merasa di atas/melayang ). Ketika menghisap marijuana, THC langsung menuju otak dan mengaktifkan semua reseptor cannabinoid. Namun, Coklat tidak mengandung anandamide sebanyak yang ada di marijuana. Zat ini dapat dihancurkan oleh asam lambung. Efek stimulasi yang diberikan anandamide hampir sepenuhnya tergantung pada seberapa banyaknya anandamide yang dihasilkan oleh otak secara alami ketika kita mengonsumsi coklat. 4. Tryptophan Tryptophan merupakan 'love drug' alami yang digunakan otak untuk memproduksi serotonin. Tingkat serotonin yang tinggi dapat membuat perasaan riang. Serotonin dapat membuat seseorang merasa tenang, santai, senang dan penting dalam mempertahankan mood seseorang. Selain zat yang telah disebutkan diatas, ada beberapa zat yang belum dapat dipastikan menyebabkan ketagihan tetapi mempunyai fungsi yang hampir sama dengan kafein dan teobromin yaitu serotonin, feniletilamin, dan tiramin. Tiramin dan feniletilamin merupakan stimulan otak yang berfungsi untuk menguatkan neurotransmisi dopaminergis dan noradrenergis, dan sebagai modulator mood yang penting. Senyawa ini juga terdapat di dalam otak dan terdistribusi pada sistem saraf pusat. Feniletilamin mempunyai sruktur kimia yang mirip dengan amfetamin. Senyawa N-asitenolamin tak jenuh berhubungan dengan anandamida yang bekerja seperti obat kanabinoid yang memberikan efek psikoaktif seperti sensitivitas dan euphoria. Serotonin merupakan senyawa yang terdapat dalam korteks serebral. Jumlah serotonin sering menjadi lebih rendah pada waktu sistem saraf berada dalam tahap depresi. Kafein dan sakarosa menstimulasi sekresi endophrin untuk mengeluarkan serotonin sehingga memberikan rasa rileks (memiliki efek yang sama seperti opium). Oleh karena itu, disarankan untuk tidak mengkonsumsi si manis ini dalam jumlah yang berlebihan karena dapat membuat ketagihan. Konsumsilah coklat secara wajar dalam jumlah normal untuk mendapatkan manfaat yang sesungguhnya dari si manis coklat. Daftar Pustaka: 1. http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro01/web2/Slaughter.html 2. www.hersheys.com/nutrion/theobromine.asp 3. www.pastrywiz.com/archive/whatis.htm 4. www.gizi.net/cgi_bin/berita/fullnews.cgi?newsid1085726481,86141 5. www.depkes.go.id/index.php?option=articles&task=viewarticle&artid=113&itemid=3