Chocolate, tryptophan and serotonin

I only mention chocolate because so many mother tell me that ‘somebody’ told them it wasn’t got for baby and would cause too much wind/colic. I have yet to find a journal article to support this assertion. However, it does contain substances which have health benefits: tryptophan, flavoinoids (resveratrol), and procyanidins. Two squares of 70-85% chocolate each day is not excessive – an Italian study in 2009 indicated that 6.7 gm per day had benefits for the heart.. half a packet of chocolate coated biscuits is NOT a good idea,

Tryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid in a normal diet. Foods such as:

Milk (yoghurt, cottage cheese), red meat, chicken/turkey, oats, wheat, rice, fish, sesame seeds. soy, chick peas, peanuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, spirulina, durian, mangoes and bananas. The FDA has allowed banana marketers to attach labels stating that bananas have some as well. Cultural and personal preferences should guide your dietary choices.

What do we use tryptophan for? It is a building block (precursor) for serotonin (neurotransmitter) and it enables the body in regulating appetite, sleep patterns and mood. Severe protein lack of it can cause problems e.g. pellagra, B3 deficiency. This is a rare condition in Australia.

So make a small amount of dark chocolate part of your normal diet – every day. If you are pressed for time, a banana, oat, chocolate smoothie might be a good idea.